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September 25, 2023

Bulgaria Remains Hopeful It Will Become a Schengen Member by

Bulgaria is hoping to obtain Schengen membership before the year ends, namely in October and December, as the Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov announced.

Alongside Romania, this Eastern European country is aiming to become a Schengen member, but Austria and the Netherlands are blocking the way, as they cite insufficient control of irregular migration flows as problematic, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

I cannot guarantee that we will become part of Schengen in October,

PM Nikolai Denkov

This could be related to the Netherlands’ election campaign, while Austria has cited Bulgaria’s effort to prevent irregular migration flows at the external border with Turkey as insufficient and as the main factor why Bulgaria is not ready to become a member.

On the other hand, Denkov says that if Bulgaria fulfils all commitments and adopts the necessary legislation, no one will have a substantial argument against the country’s Schengen membership.

The Bulgarian PM also pointed out that Spain, which has held the EU presidency since July 2023, is in favour of these two countries to be admitted to the Schengen area.

Earlier in 2023, the Netherlands implied that it might lift the veto on Bulgaria, and the only remaining country to object to the country’s membership to Schengen would be Austria. One of the reasons for these countries’ objections is the significant judicial reform in Bulgaria and the Commission’s decision to end the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) in the two countries.

However, in early July, Mark Rutte’s coalition government in the Netherlands resigned after the coalition patterns failed to disagree regarding the country’s immigration policy, and this impacted Romania and Bulgaria’s admission process, bringing uncertainty about their status.

Bulgaria hopes for Rutte’s position to soften due to the support the Balkan country gave to Ukraine and the judicial reform, but also for a victory for the coalition between the Dutch centre-left party PvdA (S&D) and GroenLinks (Greens). The left has a higher possibility of winning as the polls in the country after joining forces ahead of the upcoming early elections for the national parliament in November.

However, one of the contenders for the leader of the list of the Dutch left is former EU Commission vice president Frans Timmermans, who announced in July that he would no longer serve his post in Brussels and instead want to participate in the elections in the Netherlands. Timmermans is historically known for pushing for Bulgaria and Romania to become Schengen members.