Dutch, Austrian leaders on Bulgaria and Schengen: ‘Not yet’

Two days before European Union home affairs ministers are due to decide on whether to admit Bulgaria to the Schengen visa zone, the prime ministers of the Netherlands and Austria again signalled their countries’ intention to veto admission, saying “more time is needed”.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, speaking while attending an EU-Western Balkans summit in Tirana, said: “At this stage, it is not ‘no’ for Bulgaria, it is ‘not yet’”, Bulgarian National Radio reported on December 6.

“More time will be needed for two reasons: a new assessment of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, and the Schengen Verification Mechanism,” BNR reported Rutte as saying.

“I spoke with (Bulgarian) President Roumen Radev and I’m optimistic that next year we can take steps forward,” Rutte said.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said that his country was opposed the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen zone.

“The Minister of the Interior made it clear. There is no approval from Austria for the enlargement with Bulgaria and Romania. More time is needed,” Nehammer said.

“We have 75 000 unregistered illegal immigrants in Austria. This means that they have crossed the external border of the European Union and ended up in a landlocked country like Austria. We have to answer these security questions first,” he said.

(Photos of Nehammer and Rutte: bundeskanzleramt.at and https://www.government.nl/)

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