Romanian Perspective: Netherlands' Shift Advances Bulgaria's Schengen Bid

EU | December 24, 2023, Sunday // 10:51|  views

Romanian media outlets have recently erupted with news of a significant development: the official removal of the Netherlands' veto that had been impeding Bulgaria's access to the Schengen area. The reports, citing sources like BTA and Bulgarian National Radio, have generated widespread anticipation in Romania, especially considering the close linkage between Romania’s aspirations and Bulgaria’s path to Schengen membership.

In the Romanian publication "Libertatea," this shift is celebrated not only as a milestone for Bulgaria but also as encouraging news for Romania. The two countries have jointly applied for Schengen entry, making the lifting of the Netherlands' veto a positive sign for Romania’s own prospects. However, despite this positive movement, attention now turns to Austria, which stands as the remaining obstacle in this collective journey.

Austria's position has been a focal point of ongoing negotiations involving Bulgaria, Austria, and Romania, alongside various European institutions. Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov of Bulgaria has been quoted by Romanian media, emphasizing the pressing need for Austria's decision. Stoyanov remains hopeful for a timely resolution but acknowledges the possibility that Austria’s verdict may extend beyond the New Year.

Last year, both Austria and the Netherlands were instrumental in delaying the Schengen entry for Romania and Bulgaria. While the veto primarily targeted Bulgaria, Romania, part of a joint application, experienced collateral consequences from the decision, as highlighted by "Libertatea."

The headlines from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Romanian Service marked the Netherlands' acceptance of Bulgaria into Schengen as a pivotal development. Austrian discussions have since taken center stage in Romanian media, with Austria now being seen as the final hurdle in the Schengen entry process.

"Libertatea" delved into recent diplomatic exchanges, where Romania expressed flexibility regarding Austria's stance. Nevertheless, Austria proposed specific conditions for what they termed "air Schengen." These conditions included a strengthening of border operations in Bulgaria, infrastructure enhancements, and the reception of refugees by both Bulgaria and Romania. While Bucharest expressed openness to these conditions, Sofia’s response was more critical.

Romanian Interior Minister Catalin Predoiu recently confirmed Austria’s formal acceptance of extending Schengen entry to air borders. However, ongoing discussions concerning the handling of land borders continue, highlighting that agreements on this front are yet to be finalized, as reported by “Libertatea.”

As the dust settles from the Netherlands' move, attention is now squarely fixed on Austria. The decision from Vienna will not only impact Bulgaria's Schengen entry but will also determine Romania’s fate in this ongoing narrative of Schengen expansion.

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Tags: Romania, Bulgaria, Schengen, Netherlands


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