The President of the European Union Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that Bulgaria and Romania should be admitted into the Schengen borderless area without any further delay.
Such a remark from the EU Commission President was made in her State of the Union address on September 13, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The State of the Union address marks the official start of the working year of the EU, and during it, von der Leyen stressed that Bulgaria and Romania have proved that they belong in the Schengen.
They have proved it: Bulgaria and Romania are part of our Schengen area. So let us finally bring them in – without any further delay.
Moreover, von der Leyen noted that Bulgaria and Romania have been showcasing best practices on asylum and returns and, at the same time, stressed that border protection has been stepped up.
The Council of the EU blocked the two countries’ accession to Schengen following the opposition from Austria and the Netherlands.
The two countries opposed the accession, saying that they were concerned about increased irregular migration into their territories.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg, said for Politico a couple of weeks ago that the country continues to remain against the expansion of the Schengen Area.
Last year, Austria was per capita the country with the biggest burden as far as asylum seekers are concerned — 112,000 asylum seekers. If a country like Austria can be, in continental Europe, the most affected by asylum seekers, then something is fundamentally wrong.
Minister Schallenberg further said that he does not consider Austria’s stance as unfair to Bulgaria and Romania, as, according to him, “it is not directed against them”. He also revealed that around 20 per cent of the people reaching Austria were crossing through the territory of Romania.
The Minister of Interior of Austria, Gerhard Karner, has also said that his government will not support Schengen expansion. According to him, Austria is not open to making new additions to the borderless area.
On the other hand, similar to the President of the EU Commission, the pro-European and centrist political group in the European Parliament, Renew Europe, said that Bulgaria and Romania should be accepted in the Schengen Area as soon as possible.
Renew Europe said that the right of free movement within the area is being denied to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania without justifiable reason, and for this reason, the acceptance of these two countries has been seen as necessary.