Romania and Bulgaria are ready for Schengen, Austrian president says
Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen reportedly said in a recent meeting with EU Ambassador Martin Selmayr that Romania and Bulgaria are ready to join Schengen.
"Of course we have to know who is entering the EU and Austria, who is applying for asylum. And, of course, the EU has to control its external borders," the president said, according to Kleine Zeitung. "Romania and Bulgaria meet the criteria for Schengen membership. I'm concerned about Austria's reputation with our European partners."
The Austrian newspaper, cited by local News.ro, notes that president Alexander Van der Bellen is thus distancing himself from chancellor Karl Nehammer on the Schengen veto.
The Austrian leader also referred to the business environment's concerns: "When well-known companies from Austria that are successfully active in Romania say that they are concerned about current Austrian politics, these voices should be taken seriously. It's about real orders, real sales and real jobs. Both in Romania and also here in Austria. In this respect, I hope a solution can soon help calm things down."
Austria vetoed Romania's entry into the Schengen area in early December last year, quoting an increase in illegal migration. In January, chancellor Karl Nehammer said Austria would maintain its veto against the expansion of Schengen as long as the area "does not function."
Romania's interior minister Lucian Bode said recently that the country maintains its objective of joining the Schengen Area in 2023 despite opposition from Austria.
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