The Netherlands and Austria reiterated that they will Not Allow an Expansion of SchengenEU | September 15, 2023, Friday // 09:10| views
Former Dutch PM Mark Rutte (right) and Bulgarian President Rumen Radev (left)
Senior officials from the Netherlands and Austria said yesterday that their countries, which are suspending Bulgaria and Romania's Schengen membership, are not yet ready to give their approval.
According to a release from the press service of the Council of Ministers in Sofia, the resigned Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the Dutch government is closely monitoring the progress in implementing the rule of law in Bulgaria. In a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, he added that his office is inclined to re-submit the issue to the parliament of his country when Bulgaria shows even more results on this topic.
At the end of August, to a parliamentary question in the Dutch parliament about an invitation from Bulgaria for border police officers to visit the country, the government replied that they had no intention of taking such steps before they received a new report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. The European Commission stopped preparing such reports years ago, but formally the mechanism, better known in Bulgaria as "monitoring", has not been closed. The response also states that Rutte's office would like to send a special mission to Bulgaria to check whether all the requirements for legislative measures for Schengen have been adopted by the Bulgarian parliament and adapted to Bulgarian legislation, as well as how the justice reform is progressing.
In a report presented yesterday to the people's representatives in The Hague, the Dutch cabinet drew attention to two recommendations from the report of the European Commission (EC) on the rule of law in Bulgaria from July 5 - on the structure and composition of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and the inspectorate to it, as well as for the prevention and counteraction of corruption.
Denkov assured Mark Rutte that next week the Bulgarian Parliament is expected to adopt changes to the Law on Combating Corruption and Confiscation of Illegally Acquired Property, which will reform the Commission for Combating Corruption and Confiscation of Illegally Acquired Property. By mid-October, it is planned to vote on the first reading of the proposed changes to the constitution, which refer to the SJC. After that, Bulgaria will inform the EC and all member states about the progress achieved in the implementation of the recommendations in the report of July 5.
Yesterday, EURACTIV quoted on its page German Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner as saying: "At this stage, it makes no sense for me to talk about expanding Schengen. We need more control, not less." According to him, "data on migration show an increase in arrivals throughout Europe and in many countries additional border controls are being discussed - for example, the one between Germany and Poland".
This is also his answer to the question of whether Vienna will respond to the call of the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen from Wednesday that Bulgaria and Romania "finally be accepted".
The Austrian government believes that Bulgaria and Romania cannot effectively control their borders. In the country, the authorities are criticized by the liberal opposition party NEOS.
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