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Challenges facing Bulgaria and Romania’s Schengen applications

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Bulgaria and Romania are stepping up diplomatic efforts to join the European Union’s passport-free Schengen area by the end of the year, but skepticism from Austria and the Netherlands will likely continue to delay their accession and the associated economic benefits. On October 24, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov arrived in Vienna for a series of meetings with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and members of the Austrian Parliament. The Bulgarian delegation includes Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov and Deputy Foreign Minister Elena Shekerletova. Denkov’s trip is part of a diplomatic effort to convince Austria to lift its veto on Bulgaria’s entry into the Schengen area without a passport. Austria and the Netherlands are currently vetoing Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen, arguing that the Balkan country is not doing enough to prevent the arrival of irregular migrants on its territory. Austria is also opposed to Romania’s accession to

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