The group of European Union Member States opposing the enlargement of the borderless Schengen Area has expanded, with Austria recently expressing its refusal to support the accession of Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania into the Schengen Area.
In a press release issued last Friday, November 18, the Austrian Ministry of the Interior noted that due to “the current migration figures and the lack of border protection”, Austria rejects the expansion of the Schengen Area with Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to the Minister of Interior, Gerhard Karner, the number of migrants reaching the borders of Austria illegally has increased, with the authorities picking up 100,000 illegal migrants in the country. 75 per cent of them, he claims, have not been registered in any of the EU countries, even though they have already passed through several safe third countries.
“Expanding a broken system cannot work. My position as Minister of the Interior is clear: I cannot accept the abolition of border controls,” Minister Karner said.
“In this situation, it is wrong to give up border controls,” he insisted.
In a bid to prevent secondary movement, increase in irregular migration flows, smuggling activities, and illegal entry of potential terrorist threats, Austria has reintroduced land border controls in place with Slovenia and Hungary, which are sent to remain in place until May 11, 2023.
At the same time, Austria also has border controls in place with Slovakia, effective until November 12, 2022, due to the increase of irregular migration flows and secondary movements of these migrants.
Several other countries, including here the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden, currently have reintroduced border controls due to migration and security risks.
While Austria is not the only country that has reintroduced border controls, it is also not the only country that opposes the enlargement of the Schengen Area, even though on November 16, the EU Commission asserted that Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania are ready to join the Schengen area.
“The time has come to allow Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia to become full Schengen members, as is their right. Continued delays in doing so risks alienating citizens of these countries unduly and at a time when Europe needs to be knitting closer together,” the EU Vice-President Margaritis Schinas had said at the time.
He had also insisted that an expanded Schengen Zone would strengthen the Eu both internally and on the global stage.
Yet, for example, the Netherlands does not support Bulgaria and Romania joining the Schengen Area, and the country’s lawmakers had even introduced a resolution at the end of October this year in their bid to prevent the government from “taking an irresponsible step” in permitting these two countries to join the Schengen Area.
In their bid to assess the situation, the Dutch government has even sent its own evaluation mission to Romania in order to check whether the country is fully prepared to become a part of the Schengen Zone.
>> Brussels Pressures Netherlands to Support Bulgaria & Romania’s Accession to Schengen Area
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