Bulgaria will in all probability enter Schengen by the end of the year and the admission will be in two stages. In October, border control at the airports will be abolished, and in January 2024 – the ground control as well.
This was reported by the Brussels-based publication Euractiv, citing sources from diplomatic circles in Brussels, the Bulgarian parliament and the government.
Along with Bulgaria, Romania will also join on the same schedule.
According to the publication, the biggest obstacle to Schengen membership has been removed – the objections of the Netherlands, which has vetoed the accession for years. The government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte has signaled that it appreciates the efforts of the Bulgarian parliament and the last four governments to initiate real judicial reform with the introduction of a mechanism for an independent investigation of the chief prosecutor, writes Euractiv.
Austria’s objections to the expansion of Schengen due to the increased number of refugees have not dropped, but the expectation is that Vienna will no longer stop the two Balkan countries if it remains the only country in the EU that is against, the Brussels edition adds.
In December last year, Bulgaria’s Schengen membership was blocked by Austria and the Netherlands. Romania was stopped by only Austria. From January 1, 2023, Croatia became a full member of the free movement area.