Romania can join Schengen only after EU reforms its migration policy, Austrian minister says
Austria will agree with Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schengen area only after changes are made to the EU migration policy, according to Karoline Edtstadler, Austria’s minister for European Affairs.
“We want to continue discussing the Schengen expansion, in coordination with partners in Bulgaria and Romania, so that we can put it back on the agenda after the necessary steps are taken regarding migration and asylum policy,” Edtstadler told Austrian public radio ORF, cited by B1.
The minister also said that the Austrian government expects progress to be made from January onwards, when the presidency of the EU Council will be taken over by Sweden, a country with experience when it comes to migration.
According to Edtstadler, the decision on Schengen expansion will not be delayed until the entire asylum reform is adopted at the EU level, because the process will take time. “We have to take these steps, step by step, and establish a plan, then we can talk about expanding Schengen to include Bulgaria and Romania,” she said.
Austria believes that pilot projects for the rapid management of asylum procedures at the external borders of the EU, money for the countries located at these borders, and the “opportunity to request asylum in safe third countries,” should be included in the changes to the EU policy for migrants.
On December 8, Austria vetoed Romania's bid to join the border-free Schengen area. Despite criticism, Austria’s position has not changed. The center-right government led by chancellor Karl Nehammer continues to claim that 20,000 illegal migrants crossed Romania before reaching Austria, despite having no proof and being contradicted by the EU's border agency Frontex.
(Photo source: Karoline Edtstadler on Facebook; photo: EPP)