European Commission: The Imposition of Additional Conditions for Schengen on Bulgaria is Unfair
“Placing additional conditions before Bulgaria's entry into Schengen is unfair to the efforts made by the two countries.” This was stated by the vice president of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, on Monday, when asked if the commission is writing the report that the Netherlands wants in order to remove its veto on Bulgaria's entry into Schengen.
Sefcovic said that "for the European Commission, Romania and Bulgaria fulfill all the conditions for Schengen and the fact that they were not accepted is regrettable", adding that the two are doing everything possible to prepare for membership.
The vice-president also said that the procedures for the opening of the Schengen negotiations for Bulgaria and Romania, which at the time did not provide for reports on the observance of the rule of law, should be respected, and that the imposition of additional conditions would be unfair to them.
He did not specifically answer whether the commission was preparing a Cooperation and Verification Mechanism report, but said there were other assessment tools for rule of law issues.
The Netherlands is demanding that the European Commission issue another report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism on judicial reforms, the fight against corruption and organized crime in Bulgaria, before reconsidering whether to lift its veto on its entry into Schengen.
The European Commission stopped publishing such reports in 2019, judging that Bulgaria had made sufficient progress in implementing its recommended reforms, but did not stop monitoring it.
No decision on the fence along the border with Turkey
After the General Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on Monday, it also became clear that the issue of the Bulgarian-Turkish border fence will not be central to the discussion on illegal migration in the EU during the leaders' summit on Thursday and Friday.
Although they will discuss increasing migration pressure, the fence issue will not be central to the conversation, which will focus on improving security at the EU's sea and land borders, said Sweden's European Affairs Minister Jessika Roswall, who chaired the ministerial meeting on Monday.
Roswall said several countries had raised the issue of the fence at the meeting, which was supposed to prepare the gathering of European leaders, but it would not be central to their discussion.
Austria proposes that the EU erect a barrier facility on the Bulgarian-Turkish border, financing it with 2 billion euros from European funds, as a condition to remove its reservations to the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the EU. According to Vienna, around 80% of illegal migrants in Austria enter the EU through the two countries, which fail to register them as asylum seekers and pass them through to central and western Europe.
In December, Bulgaria and Romania failed to reach unanimity on their applications to join the Schengen visa-free area. Sofia was blocked by Amsterdam and Vienna, and Bucharest by Vienna. European countries then approved the entry of Croatia, which became part of Schengen on January 1.
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