Bulgarian PM: Agreement in principle with Austria on Bulgaria, Romania entering Schengen

After long and complicated negotiations, an agreement in principle has been reached with Austria on the admission of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen zone, initially with air and sea borders, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov told a Cabinet meeting on December 28.

After Parliament in the Netherlands decided in favour of the admission of Bulgaria to Schengen, it has remained for Austria to give its consent.

Denkov said that Austria had made a commitment to continue negotiations on the opening of the land borders as well.

This opening would be combined with substantial support from the European Commission for the protection of the European Union’s external borders with Serbia and Türkiye, in order to reduce the flow of illegal migrants to Europe, he said.

“After 12 years without much progress on the subject of Schengen, today we can congratulate ourselves on this indisputable success of the Bulgarian state,” he said.

Earlier, on December 27, Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said on Facebook that Bulgaria and Romania would enter Schengen with air and sea borders from March 2024.

“From March next year, Romanians will benefit from the advantages of the Schengen area by air and sea. Immediately, the Port of Constanta will increase its importance exponentially. I am also convinced that in 2024 we will close negotiations for the land border,” Ciolacu said.

Romania’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said on its website that on December 23, it had reached a political agreement “together with the corresponding ministries in Austria and Bulgaria regarding the extension of the Schengen area with Romania and Bulgaria and the application of the Schengen acquis in Romania and Bulgaria at the air and sea borders starting from March 2024, as well as the discussion in 2024 of its application at the land borders in close connection with the compensatory measures regarding the strengthening of border control and the application of the Dublin Agreement”.

On December 26 and 27, there had been discussions via diplomatic channels involving the interior and foreign ministries and at the level of diplomatic missions accredited to the EU on a draft decision by the Council of the EU legally incorporating the political agreement. These discussions would continue on December 28, the Romanian ministry said.

(Photo of Denkov: government.bg)

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