Spain, holding the EU Presidency, remains non-committal about arranging an urgent Council meeting to vote on Bulgaria and Romania’s Schengen membership.
Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska expressed Europe’s strengthened stance with the integration of both countries but refrained from committing to a timeline, citing ongoing efforts.
Despite discussions among EU interior ministers on the readiness of Bulgaria and Romania, the scheduled vote was canceled due to Austria’s veto, lacking unanimity. Commissioner Ylva Johansson remains persistent in her goal of admitting both countries by year-end, as indicated before the meeting.
Amid the postponed vote, Romanian MEPs hinted at Bucharest’s intent to call an emergency meeting to address the matter.
Johansson emphasized the success of an additional European Commission mission to Bulgaria, highlighting the preparedness of both countries for Schengen.
The EU Council’s primary focus involves negotiations on migration and asylum legislation before June’s European elections. Johansson outlined steps to expedite the return of illegal migrants, urging active use of readmission agreements, mutual recognition of return decisions, and reinforced border controls.
To address heightened risks of terrorist attacks, the Commission plans to allocate an extra 30 million euros to safeguard religious sites, considering the Middle East conflict and the upcoming Christmas season.
Overall, Schengen enlargement discussions remain uncertain, while the Council aims to fast-track migration policies and boost security measures.