So far, Austria is not giving any signals that it may reconsider its position against the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen by the end of the year, and the visit of our Foreign Minister Maria Gabriel in Vienna did not lead to a change.
Bulgaria is part of the solution to the problem of migration pressure and our accession to Schengen will make the control of the EU’s external borders even more efficientsaid Maria Gabriel at a joint press conference with Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg in Vienna.
Austria and the Netherlands are the two countries that stop Bulgaria on its way to Schengen. Vienna tied its veto to a demand for a comprehensive reform of the free travel zone, on which there is, however, no agreement.
Maria Gabriel said that Bulgaria supports Austria’s vision that the Schengen area should adapt to the new realities.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said for his part that Bulgaria is “moving in the right direction” to join Schengen, but according to him there are many challenges in the Schengen area, as many of the countries are rolling back their border controls.
In his words Bulgaria must make more efforts in protecting the external borders of the European Unionand Austria’s veto is not personally aimed at Bulgaria or Romania.
Schallenberg said Austria is surrounded by member states or associated states of the Schengen area and yet continues to have the highest proportion of asylum seekers in Europe.
Austrians love Schengen, but they have the impression that the system is currently dysfunctional and does not give them the sense of security they need, he added.
Gabriel also noted that Bulgaria and Austria have traditionally good, pragmatic and productive bilateral relations
“I am very happy to see that there is political will to further develop bilateral relations for the benefit of our businesses and our citizens.” said Maria Gabriel, quoted by BTA.
Both Gabriel and Schallenberg drew attention to the fact that Austria is the second largest foreign investor in Bulgaria.
A day ago, Maria Gabriel was also in Germany, where the support for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen was confirmed.