Bulgaria Invests EUR 240 M to Meet Schengen Requirements

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | February 1, 2008, Friday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Invests EUR 240 M to Meet Schengen Requirements Minister of Interior Petkov (left) and Minister of European Affairs Grancharova (middle) are optimistic that Bulgaria might join the Schengen Area in 2011. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)

A total of EUR 240 M are available for the measures that Bulgaria needs to take in order to join the Schengen Agreement.

This was announced by Minister of Interior Rumen Petkov on Friday at a conference organized by the Open Society Institute to discuss the country's preparedness to meet the Schengen criteria.

Petkov stressed that EUR 77 M have already been invested in technical infrastructure for Bulgaria's external EU borders because this was crucial to guarantee European security. The minister explained that EUR 166 M had been envisaged for various investment projects for meeting the Schengen requirements. A monitoring of the external EU borders is scheduled to start in 2008.

"2011 is an ambitious but achievable date that the Bulgarian government has set for joining the Schengen Area", Petkov stated adding that the report on the topic prepared by the Open Society Institute was very solid and would help the public understand what Schengen is all about.

The European Affairs Minister Gergana Grancharova said Bulgaria had achieved notable progress in the control of its 1647-km border, which is external for the EU. She was positive that the free and secure movement of people, goods and services was one of the fundamental values of the European Union. Grancharova too agreed that joining Schengen in 2011 is a realistic goal.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Milen Keremedchiev who is in charge of harmonizing visa and consular standards with those of the Schengen countries announced that the EU starts an inspection of Bulgarian consulates in Skopie, Nish, Belgrade, Istanbul, Kiev, Odessa, Moscow, Kishenev, and St. Petersburg.

The Open Society Institute report presented at the conference was a monitoring of Bulgaria's progress towards fulfilling the Schengen requirements. The report does say that 2011 is a realistic deadline but points out that an urgent adoption of a national strategy for the management of migration processes is needed.
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