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  • Borislav Ivanov

Austria has blocked Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia’s Schengen membership

The Austrian government has reaffirmed its opposition to Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia joining the Schengen border-free zone only days after the European Commission argued that the three nations met all of the requirements for prospective members.

Formal proposals for their admission to Schengen have been on the table of the EU-27 for some time - in the case of Romania and Bulgaria, eleven years - but misgivings from certain countries have hindered the process, which is now in its last stages.

Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner told the newspaper 'Kurier' that expanding Schengen to additional partners is "inopportune" at a time when "the external border system does not operate." Austria gets a share of the migration that reaches Europe through the Balkan route.

The probable membership of Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia will be put to a vote at the EU interior ministers' conference on December 8. This week, European Interior Commissioner Ylva Johanson said that "it is time to welcome them," and the European Parliament agreed.

According to the protocols, the ministers will consider Bulgaria and Romania's accession in a single decision and Croatia in a separate one. Because the unanimous approval of all European countries is necessary, the conclusion is doubtful for the time being, given the Netherlands' reservations.

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