European Institutions are preparing to admit Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen this year.
According to diplomatic sources in Brussels and the Bulgarian parliament and administration, European institutions are preparing to admit Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen this year, with visa-free air travel anticipated in October and the elimination of land border controls by 1 January.
According to sources in Sofia, Bulgaria has a good chance of becoming a full member of Schengen by joining with its air borders as early as October this year, with the potential to become a full member with its land borders starting in January 2024, if it applies diplomatic pressure and demonstrates a desire to continue reforms.
The Netherlands’ objection to Bulgaria’s Schengen membership was its largest barrier up until a month ago.
With the adoption of a mechanism for an independent investigation of the chief prosecutor at the end of May, Mark Rutte’s government has made it known that it appreciates the efforts of the Bulgarian parliament and the previous four governments to start real judicial reform.
Ivan Geshev, the former chief prosecutor of Bulgaria, was fired from his position last week, making him the first casualty of the new legislation. Geshev did not have a great reputation in Brussels. It is anticipated that the legal system will continue to be cleaned up.
The election of a normal administration in Sofia following a protracted political crisis during which a caretaker government chosen by President Rumen Radev was in control is the second main factor in removing barriers to Bulgaria’s entrance into Schengen.
Ministers from the We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria coalition, backed by GERB and represented by Deputy Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel, make up the cabinet.
The new administration has also determined that Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov, rather than the president, will represent the nation at the upcoming NATO meeting and stated its aim to change Radev’s approach towards Ukraine.
According to sources, the coalition will remain united as long as it works toward its large shared goals, which include joining Schengen and the eurozone.
The most recent report under the Cooperation and Verification mechanism, which is being prepared at the Netherlands’ demand, will be published by the European Commission in July. It is anticipated that the report will be generally favorable and recognize the political commitment to keep up the improvements.
Even while the refugee crisis has not caused Austria’s opposition to Schengen extension to diminish, it is anticipated that if Vienna is isolated, it won’t use its veto anymore.
Bulgaria’s application to join Schengen was rejected by Austria and the Netherlands in December of last year. Only Austria managed to block Romania.
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