Bulgaria’s foreign affairs minister, Ekaterina Zaharieva, has once again challenged the European Union over expanding the border-free Schengen Area. Not only did she call for the repeal of temporary border controls within the bloc in a recent interview with the German daily newspaper Die Welt, she also demanded that Bulgaria and Romania be admitted to the Schengen Area by the end of the year.
The diplomat’s proposal is backed by a certain amount of political heft, considering Bulgaria currently holds the European Council’s rotating presidency. Yet the initiative is anything but new. Bulgarian and Romanian politicians have been demanding membership in the Schengen Area with tenacious regularity since being invited to join it on January 1 2007. Each time they have done so, the request has been denied on the basis of deficiencies in the areas of rule of law and fighting corruption.
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