Netherlands PM optimistic about Bulgaria’s entry to ‘land Schengen’ by end-2024

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, said on February 8 that he would optimistic that Bulgaria’s land borders being included in the Schengen zone by the end of this year.

Speaking after talks in The Hague with visiting Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, Rutte said: “I am proud of what Bulgaria has achieved and in our eyes you are already a full member of Schengen”.

At the end of 2023, with the agreement of the Netherlands and Austria, EU leaders agreed that the air and sea borders of Bulgaria and Romania would be included in the Schengen zone as of March 31 2024, with negotiations on the inclusion of land borders expected to start some time in 2024.

On the inclusion of the land borders, Rutte said that the Netherlands would continue to work actively with other countries to achieve this goal as well.

Rutte said that Bulgaria was moving in the right direction on the way to the euro zone.

The Bulgarian government’s current aim is for the country to join the euro zone at the beginning of 2025.

“I envy your very low debt-to-GDP ratio, which is half of ours and a third of Germany’s,” Rütte said.

He said that Bulgaria had handled the budget deficit very well and this linked to the stable policy ensured by the Denkov government and the team of the Ministry of Finance.

While expressing optimism that Bulgaria would be admitted to euro zone, Rutte emphasised that Bulgaria had to meet the criteria and said that he would comply with the EU decision on the issue.

Denkov said that the Netherlands is in first place in terms of investments in Bulgaria and said that these excellent economic relations should continue in the context of the general development in the region.

“We are grateful for the support of the Netherlands for all the European priorities of our government – Schengen, the eurozone, the OECD. These are priorities on which we are working very closely with our Western partners,” Denkov said.

Denkov again confirmed the readiness of Bulgaria to help Ukraine in various aspects.

He said that Bulgaria was rapidly developing its defence forces and strengthening cooperation with the neighbouring countries in the Black Sea region – Romania and Turkey, in line with the Nato partnership.

The two also commented on disinformation – the other threat that Russia uses in an attempt to influence and distress Bulgarian society, a Bulgarian government statement said.

(Photos via the pages on X of Rutte and the Bulgarian government)

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