The Netherlands Optimistic That Bulgaria Will Join Schengen Zone by Land Borders
It has been two months since the Netherlands dropped its objection to Bulgaria’s membership in the Schengen Zone, and the country is now optimistic that Sofia’s land border accession to the borderless area will be completed by the end of this year.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed his hopes for Bulgaria’s inclusion in the Schengen Area by the end of this year in terms of land borders. His comments came after a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov in the Hague. Rutte emphasized that he is proud of what Bulgaria has achieved and that, in the eyes of the Netherlands, Bulgaria is already a full member of Schengen.
Related to the inclusion of the land borders, the Dutch PM added that his country will continue to work actively with other states to achieve this goal, with Bulgaria aiming to join the eurozone at the beginning of 2025. Also, Mark Rutte expressed his envy of Bulgaria’s very low debt-to-GDP ratio.
Denkov noted that the Netherlands is the top investor in his country, stressing the importance of maintaining strong economic ties as the region develops. He also expressed gratitude for the support of the Netherlands for all the European priorities of the Bulgarian government, such as Schengen, the eurozone, and the OECD.
The accession of Bulgaria to the Schengen Area was previously blocked by Austria and the Netherlands in December 2022 over irregular migration concerns. However, the Dutch Deputy Justice Minister later stated that Bulgaria had met all the necessary conditions to join the Schengen Area by strengthening its borders to curb irregular migration.
Despite Austria’s proposal for “Air Schengen,” which will see Bulgaria and Romania join the Schengen Zone by air and sea in March 2024, the Interior Minister of Austria continues to maintain its veto when it comes to land border issues. However, he emphasized that the entire migration system is in a catastrophic situation.
In addition to the Netherlands’ prime minister, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has also expressed hopes that both Bulgaria and Romania will soon become members of the Schengen Zone. Overall, there is growing optimism that Bulgaria’s full accession to the Schengen Zone via land borders is within reach.
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