February 26. 2024. 6:23

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Sofia could meet Dutch Schengen requirements by October

Bulgaria could meet the requirements on corruption and judicial reform as the Dutch demanded to lift their Schengen veto by October, Foreign Minister Nikolay Milkov said on Monday.

In December, Austria and the Netherlands vetoed accession to the visa-free Schengen Area for Bulgaria and Romania but accepted that of Croatia. Regarding Bulgaria, Austria said it must work towards better protecting its border with Turkey to reduce migrant numbers, while the Netherlands wants it to prove it is fighting corruption and working on judicial reform.

“We were able to work out a paradigm together with the Netherlands for how our efforts should proceed from here on out. We must work together to identify everything that the Netherlands expect to see in a future report regarding the rule of law in Bulgaria,” said Milkov, as quoted by BTA.

If the Dutch are satisfied with the Commission’s rule of law report that is expected to be published in June or July – for which the Dutch will also participate in the fact-finding mission – Bulgaria would be able to meet the criteria for Schengen accession by October, said Milkov.

“When I say October, it’s not a target date, because it’s not just up to us, but it’s a deadline in which we could possibly cover the requirements so that we can be part of Schengen,” he explained.

Milkov also confirmed that Bulgaria was working towards accession alongside Romania, pointing to President Klaus Iohannis’ visit last week to Bulgaria and his phone call with Romania’s Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu two days later.

“The goal here is not to save each other individually, the goal is to go to Schengen together because our interests are common. It’s about the fact that all, let’s say, goods that are transported from Greek ports to the north to Europe should not wait for days at the borders between Greece and Bulgaria and then between Bulgaria and Romania,” the minister added

This is a matter of economic interest for the whole of Europe, the minister added.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)