MEP Proposes Abolishing Bulgarian-Romanian Border if Countries Aren't Admitted to Schengen
Bulgaria and Romania should eliminate border controls if both nations aren't admitted to the Schengen Zone by Christmas, stated Bulgarian MEP Andrey Novakov.
Euractiv reports that in December, Austria and the Netherlands blocked Bulgaria's visa-free status, while only Austria halted Romania's progress. This decision even sparked discussions in diplomatic circles about a possible "separation" of Romania's case from Bulgaria.
"For every day lost at the border, a truck loses €200 for its owner. Many drivers are being laid off as they don't want to hang around at the border," commented Novakov.
However, he claims that the hindrances faced by Bulgaria and Romania in their Schengen bids are no longer connected to Dutch and Austrian vetoes.
"Since elections are approaching, someone needs more sensational messages like 'we'll stop them so you can sleep peacefully'. Austria's peaceful sleep doesn't depend on whether we are in Schengen; it's the other way around," Novakov remarked.
Bulgaria's Prime Minister, Nikolai Denkov, and his Romanian counterpart, Ion-Marcel Ciolacu, met in Athens on Tuesday to discuss a joint strategy for Bulgaria and Romania's Schengen membership.
Denkov stated that abolishing border controls between Bulgaria and Greece, as well as between Bulgaria and Romania, would free up resources for enhancing the protection of the EU's external borders between Bulgaria and Turkey.
Both Prime Ministers also confirmed their interest in constructing a new bridge across the Danube, launching a ferry line between Ruse in Bulgaria and Giurgiu in Romania, and expediting the Fast Danube project.
During debates in the European Parliament regarding Schengen membership last month, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, co-chair of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), argued that citizens of Bulgaria and Romania are not lesser EU citizens. He criticized the European Council for allowing the blocking of Bulgaria and Romania's Schengen entry.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution emphasizing that both countries had fulfilled the necessary requirements for Schengen membership. However, MEPs expressed regret about the Council's decision on December 8, 2022, rejecting the membership without presenting any legal justification tied to entry criteria.
A foreign mission involving Austria and the Netherlands, tasked with assessing Bulgaria's readiness for Schengen, will present its findings in September.
Earlier this month, Austria's Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner, called for the veto on Romania and Bulgaria's Schengen accession to be extended to maintain border control with these countries.
Vienna's official stance is that many undocumented migrants and asylum seekers enter Austria through these countries.