The president of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, has said that Romania and Bulgaria are ready to join the Schengen Area, disassociating himself from the country’s chancellor, Karl Nehammer, who said that he continues to remain against the Area expansion.
Such e declaration from Bellen was reportedly made during a meeting he had with the Head of Representation of the European Commission in Austria, Martin Selmayr, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to Kleine Zeitung, Bellen said that Romania and Bulgaria have already met all the requirements to become members of the Schengen Area and the same stressed that he is concerned about the reputation of Austria.
“We have to know who is entering the EU and Austria, who is applying for asylum. And, of course, the EU has to control its external borders. Romania and Bulgaria meet the criteria for Schengen membership. I’m concerned about Austria’s reputation with our European partners,” the statement of Bellen reads.
Following such a statement from Bellen, it has been said that the president wants to distance himself from Nehammer on the Schengen veto and support the two countries in joining the Area.
Austria blocked the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen Area on December 8, 2022. Back then, the Austrian authorities said it was not the right time for the two countries to join the Area due to illegal migrant arrivals concerns.
Nonetheless, despite Austria keeping such a stance, Romania and Bulgaria continued to push for the accession.
Just recently, the authorities of the two countries said that they expect their Schengen entry bid to be approved this year.
Emphasising the contribution of Romania and Bulgaria in protecting the external borders of the EU and preventing irregular migration to the bloc, the president of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, said he has high hopes that the EU will let Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen Area.
Additionally, Iohannis said that irregular migration is only artificially mixed into this issue, suggesting that this is not a valid reason for the two countries not to be permitted accession into the Area.
“We expect that our right to be part of Schengen is recognised, and we hope to receive a positive vote this year,” Iohannis stated.
Romania has consistently been reiterating that the country is determined in its efforts to join the Area, and the country’s authorities have also pointed out that the decision to let Romania into the Schengen would benefit not only Romania but the other Member States too.
According to Romanian Minister of Interior Lucian Bode, with the accession of Romania into the Schengen Area, the security of the EU external border and EU citizens would be greatly increased.
Source : Schengen Visa