Austria will support Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area only after changes are made to the European Union’s migration policy.
Such comments were made by the Austrian Minister for European Affairs, Karoline Edtstadler, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“We want to continue discussing the enlargement of Schengen, in coordination with our partners in Bulgaria and Romania, so that we can put it back on the agenda once the necessary measures have been taken on migration policy and asylum.” Edtstadler told Austrian radio ORF.
Furthermore, the minister stressed that the Austrian government hopes that further progress will be made in this area from January, when the presidency of the Council of the European Union will be held by Sweden, considering Sweden as a country that has experience with migration.
According to Edtstadler, the decision on the growth of the Schengen zone will not be delayed until the entire asylum reform at the European level is adopted, after which the process will take time.
“We need to take these steps, step by step, and establish a plan, and then we can talk about the enlargement of Schengen to Bulgaria and Romania,” he added. she emphasized on this subject.
The Austrian authorities believe that a pilot project to speed up the management of asylum procedures at the EU’s external borders, funds for all states located at these borders as well as the possibility of applying for asylum in third countries Safe migrants should also be included in the new changes to the European Union Migrant Policy.
Recently, the member states of the European Union unanimously supported Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area, which will officially take place on January 1, 2023, but Austria had a different opinion regarding Romania and Bulgaria.
Although the Austrian decision has been criticized, Austrian Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer said earlier this month that he supported the Austrian decision.
Even though the two Balkan countries have fulfilled the necessary conditions to be part of the borderless Schengen area, the process is not yet finalized.
According to a report provided by Deutsche Welle, Austria says there will be no extension of the Schengen area until the EU’s external borders are effectively protected.
“The EU’s misguided asylum policy is to blame for this situation. We will now continue to fight within the EU to correct these mistakes.” he pointed out regarding the issue.
In addition to Austria, Dutch authorities have made similar decisions. The vote against the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area was criticized not only by the authorities of these two Balkan countries, but also by other European countries.
Previously, Romania’s Minister of Economy said that staying outside the borderless Schengen area resulted in 10 billion euros of financial loss for this Balkan country.