The membership of Romania and Bulgaria to the European Union’s Schengen Zone has officially been included on the agenda of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council on December 5, 2023.
The decision has been confirmed by the Member of the European Parliament, Vlad Gheorghe, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The issue was also included on the JHA agenda in December last year. However, Austria opposed the accession of these two countries, and in the case of Bulgaria, in addition to Vienna, the issue was also opposed by the Netherlands.
Gheorghe said that the mention in the Council’s agenda is almost identical to last year’s, from the session where Austria‘s veto kept both countries waiting at the gates of Europe for another year.
It’s the last chance for our country, and we’ll see if all the pressure exerted by the Commission, the Parliament, and each of us has worked, and Romania will finally become a part of the European free movement area, as it rightfully deserves since 2011.Vlad Gheorghe
Sources told Hotnews. ro, that the issue has been included on the JHA agenda upon Romania’s request while the discussions are advanced with progress being made.
Recently, the European Commission expressed its readiness to conduct a new fact-finding mission in Sofia to evaluate the country’s readiness to become part of the Schengen Area.
The decision came following a request from the Dutch authorities addressed to the Commission for an additional fact-finding mission to Bulgaria.
We confirm that the Netherlands asked for a complementary fact-finding mission to Bulgaria.EC Spokesperson for Home Affairs, Anitta Hipper
The Commission once again emphasised that both these two Balkan countries have met all the needed requirements in order to become the newest Schengen Zone countries.
Last month, Spain’s Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, expressed his hope that Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen would be finalised in December this year.
The Minister emphasised that the issue is among the main priorities of Spain, which, at present, holds the six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.
However, the membership of these two countries continues to be opposed by authorities in Austria and, in the case of Bulgaria, by the Dutch authorities.
Emphasising that the decision has nothing to do with these two countries, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer last month confirmed that his country maintains its veto when it comes to this issue.
Last month, authorities in the Netherlands also confirmed that they would not remove their veto when it comes to Bulgaria’s membership in the Schengen Zone.
Source : schengenvisainfo