Bulgaria and Romania’s ongoing efforts to join the Schengen Zone are facing roadblocks from Austria’s Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner. While the “Air Schengen” proposal allowed for partial accession to the Schengen Zone by air and sea, Karner has stated that Austria will continue to veto the land border issue.
In an interview with the daily Presse, Karner emphasized the necessity of maintaining land border control, citing the current migration situation as a reason for Austria’s opposition to further expansion of the Schengen Area. He stressed that the implementation of the new asylum and migration pact is crucial for the functioning of the European system and for ensuring the protection of the external border.
Despite the partial accession via air and sea, Austria remains firm in its stance on delaying the expansion of the passport-free travel zone to include land borders for Bulgaria and Romania. Karner emphasized the need for a functioning system at the European level and highlighted the importance of the implementation of the new asylum and migration pact.
While Austria’s veto remains in place, the National Union of Road Hauliers from Romania (UNTRR) has urged Romanian and European authorities to establish a precise date for accession through land borders. The road freight industry in Romania has suffered significant losses due to remaining outside the Schengen Zone, and the business community in Bulgaria has also faced substantial losses as a result of stoppages at land borders.
Despite the challenges, Bulgaria and Romania continue to work towards full accession to the Schengen Zone, with hopes for the utilization of land borders in the near future. The ongoing efforts and negotiations reflect the complex dynamics involved in the expansion of the Schengen Area and the importance of ensuring security and freedom of movement for all EU member states.
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