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HomebulgariaVon Der Leyen Wants Bulgaria, Romania in Schengen ASAP

Von Der Leyen Wants Bulgaria, Romania in Schengen ASAP

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Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that Bulgaria and Romania should be admitted to the EU’s free-movement zone “without any further delay.”

“They have proved it: Bulgaria and Romania are part of our Schengen area,” von der Leyen said in her State of the Union address, adding: “So let us finally bring them in — without any further delay.”

Last year, the Council blocked the countries’ entry following opposition from Austria and the Netherlands, as the debate about their accession became entangled in a discussion about migration along the Western Balkan route.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told POLITICO two weeks ago that his country remains opposed to extending Schengen membership to Bulgaria and Romania because of concerns about migration.

“Last year, Austria was per capita the country with the biggest burden as far as asylum seekers are concerned — 112,000 asylum seekers,” he told POLITICO’s EU Confidential podcast. “If a country like Austria can be, on continental Europe, the most affected by asylum seekers, then something is fundamentally wrong.”

Asked if it was unfair to Romania and Bulgaria, he said: “It’s not directed against them, but we have the issue that approximately 20 per cent of those coming to Austria, were actually crossing Romanian territory.”

In her speech, von der Leyen praised Romania and Bulgaria for “leading the way” with their approach to asylum and returns.

Romanian transport operators complained that the delay dealt a blow to their industry. Romania’s National Union of Road Hauliers (UNTRR) has warned that its country’s stalled Schengen membership resulted in “unacceptable” border queues, causing supply chain disruption and delivery delays.

Source: POLITICO

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