Dutch PM Says Netherlands’s Not Against Bulgaria’s Schengen Accession but Urges for Conditions to Be Met


The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, has said that his country is not against Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Zone but expects more progress from the Balkan country in terms of accession.

Rutte said that when it comes to this process, “we have to wait for the next assessment by the European Commission to see if sufficient progress has been made”, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

“So, we are not against Bulgaria’s entry into Schengen. We just have to make sure that all the conditions are met,” he pointed out, according to a Novinite.com report.

Authorities in Sofia are optimistic that the country will become part of the Schengen Zone by the end of this year after the Balkan country could meet the requirement introduced by the Netherlands by October.

In March this year, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikolay Milkov, said that the requirements imposed by the Netherlands on judicial reform and corruption could be met by October this year.

Authorities in the Netherlands urged Bulgaria to work in these fields last year in order to lift their Schengen veto, while Minister Milkov stressed that they would be able to do so by the end of this year, meaning that the Balkan country expects to join the EU’s borderless area by the end of 2024.

“When I say October, it is not a target date because it is not just up to us, but it is a deadline by which we could possibly cover the requirements so that we can be part of Schengen,” Minister Milkov stressed through a statement.

In addition, the Minister added that Bulgaria would continue working together with the Netherlands in order to identify and address future problems.

“We must work together to identify everything that the Netherlands expects to see in a future report regarding the rule of law in Bulgaria,” Milkov pointed out.

Bulgaria’s joining the borderless area of Schengen was blocked last year by Austria and Netherlands after both countries opposed the proposal of these two countries to join the visa-free travel zone.

Sweden’s permanent representative to the European Union, Lars Danielsson, emphasised that the accession of both territories to the Schengen Zone depends on Austria and Netherlands’ position.

Authorities in Austria stressed that the further expansion of the Schengen Zone should happen only after a convenient agreement on immigration is reached, while authorities in Sofia are continuously working in order for this process to be finalised by the end of this year.

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