European Union interior ministers agreed on Thursday to admit Croatia as a new member of the borderless Schengen zone, but to leave out Romania and Bulgaria, whose entry the European Commission has been advocating for a decade, because of their power. of veto. Austria is the closest of these two countries, diplomatic sources told Europe Press.
The entry of Romania and Bulgaria clashed with votes against by Austria and the Netherlands, although the latter was open to allowing Romania to enter. The decision included both countries without the possibility of splitting the votes, so the Dutch veto of Bulgaria also affected Romania.
The confirmation of the denial of entry into Bulgaria and Romania came after almost five hours of discussion, during which an attempt was made to resolve the blockade during a pause in bilateral negotiations after the first discussion in which the intention of a veto became clear. 🇧🇷
At the end of the vote that overthrew the aspirations of Bulgaria and Romania, the ministers of these two countries and the ministers of the Czech Republic, which occupies the current presidency of the European Union, took the floor to vehemently criticize the decision.
Thus, Croatia, whose entry is decided in a different vote, will become the twenty-seventh member of the free movement zone in January 2023, which includes most European Union countries, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Within the European Union, only Bulgaria, Romania, Ireland and Cyprus are not part of this group.
Austria and the Netherlands refused entry to Romania and Bulgaria
Before the start of the meeting, the vice-president of the European Commission responsible for migration, Margaretis Schinas, considered the “political” reservations of Austria and the Netherlands “unfair” because she defended these two countries more than fulfilling the specified criteria. He expected the veto to be lifted not later than Thursday “in the next few days”.
“Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania are technically ready to join Schengen. They did what we asked of them and even more than we asked of them”, said Schinas upon arrival, before warning that “the few uncertainties that remain are political and undermine two simple truths: that we are stronger, not weaker, if we expand.” Schengen, and secondly, that extending Schengen means more and better controls, not less.
Spain is one of the countries that unreservedly supports the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into Schengen because it considers that “they have shown that they meet all the requirements for full membership” of the borderless space, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, Minister of the Interior of Spain, said upon arriving at the 11:00 pm meeting.
France also voted in favor of the entry of these countries into Schengen because it argues that it has made “enormous efforts to control” the EU’s external borders, according to French Minister Gerald Darmanin.