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Austria to Maintain its Schengen Veto on Bulgaria & Romania

Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, has confirmed that his country maintains its veto when it comes to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen Zone, in spite, as he said, the decision has nothing to do with the two countries.

According to a press release from the Bulgarian government, Nehammer acknowledged both Balkan countries’ efforts to protect the EU’s external borders, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

This is an issue of security because we have very big challenges in the Schengen area. Interior ministers are saying that, indeed, the Schengen system is not functioning. Eleven EU member states now exercise internal control borders. 

NEHAMMER

While acknowledging Bulgaria’s efforts in border protection, Nehammer made clear that the current security situation does not allow for an end to border controls.

 “Austria’s problem with migration has nothing to do with Bulgaria’s borders,” he added, pointing out that only a very small percentage of migrants apprehended in Austria come through Bulgaria.

Chancellor’s comments came following a meeting held with Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov.

According to Denkov, abolishing border controls between Bulgaria and its EU neighbouring states, Greece and Romania, would free up resources to better defend the EU’s external borders with Turkey as well as Serbia.

Recently, the Interior Minister of Spain, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, expressing Madrid’s support for this issue, also expressed his hopes that Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to the borderless area of Schengen would be finalised in December this year.

He said that the accession of these two Balkan countries to Schengen is among the top priorities of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU, emphasising that Spain will do the best it can so an agreement in this regard could be reached during the next JHA meeting set to be held on December 5 and 6.

Bulgaria and Romania’s membership in the Schengen Zone was blocked on December 8 last year by Austria and the Netherlands over irregular migration concerns.

However, both countries have met all the needed requirements since 2011, based on the estimations made by the European Commission, taking into account the sharing of information, police cooperation and border management.

Recently, the Dutch Migration Minister, Eric van der Burg, said that the Netherlands would not remove its veto regarding the accession of Bulgaria to a passport-free travel zone.

According to him, the situation at the moment has not changed, and he doesn’t see it changing in the short term. Van der Burg insisted on a mission to Sofia before a decision was made on the matter.

Source : SchengenVisaInfo

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