Austria Officially Announces Conditions for Romania’s Acceptance into Air Schengen

Austrian Minister of the Interior, Gerhard Karner, declared on Monday that he presented the European Commission with ‘clear conditions’ to implement before Vienna agrees to the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in the Air Schengen area, according to the APA news agency.

‘Now it is up to the Commission,’ stated Karner on Ö1 radio’s morning show, after news over the weekend hinted at a possible relaxation of Austria’s veto against Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schengen space, with the lifting of air borders, Digi24 reports. ‘It is about the need for progress in the area of the EU’s external border protection,’ emphasized Karner. Specifically, he requests the Commission to triple the number of border police.

Additionally, the Commission must allocate funds for border protection infrastructure. Technical modernization of the Bulgarian-Turkish and Romanian-Serbian borders is primarily needed. In addition, Karner calls for strengthened controls at land borders, as well as for Romania and Bulgaria to take in asylum seekers, especially Afghans and Syrians. Karner justified the request for maintaining border controls by pointing to a ‘problem with traffickers.’ Out of just over 50,000 asylum seekers in Austria, only around 150 migrants arrived through airports, explained the Minister of the Interior. Karner will travel to Slovenia on Monday for a meeting of the interior ministers from the so-called ‘Salzburg Forum,’ to discuss the future of the Schengen area.

PM Ciolacu: ‘Austria is more flexible’

Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu says that Austria’s demands are not exaggerated, and Romania needs to strengthen its borders, citing the Cherecheș case as an example. He complained that border systems are not integrated and explained how negotiations will proceed for Romania to enter the Schengen Area with airports in March. ‘We have initiated negotiations at this moment because Romania was blocked. The first, most important step has been taken. Austria is more flexible. They couldn’t announce triumphantly that Romania will enter the air without any conditions, and next year, under Hungary’s presidency, we will continue with step two, terrestrial. The Minister of the Interior is in Vienna, negotiating. Do not think that Austria’s requirements, which do not seem excessive to me because we all want to strengthen the border, are just a show. Mr. Cherecheș managed to cross the border with an ID from a cousin, ten years younger. That is the truth. If we want to lie to ourselves and sweep everything under the rug, we will not succeed. These are normal discussions, and I am firmly convinced that they will be beneficial,’ stated Ciolacu.

Bulgaria, not so happy

On the other hand, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev claims that the conditions set by Austria for Romania and Bulgaria’s acceptance into Air Schengen are unacceptable. ‘What the Austrian Minister of the Interior is saying is a step forward, but we need to be very careful. It is extremely important for us to open land borders. The conditions the minister sets are unacceptable for Bulgaria,‘ said Radev.

Diplomatic sources told that the partial resolution of Romania’s joining Schengen with the airport first was triggered by several factors: direct political pressure from Romania, lobbying efforts by partners from the US and EU, as well as pressure from the business environment.

Air SchengenAustrian Minister of the InteriorBulgariaEuropean CommissionGerhard KarnerRomaniaSchengenVienna
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  • Panagiotis Spyridis

    It is so simple to solve this stalemate! Bulgaria just needs to comply 100% to block boarder crossings from Turkey. The issue here is if the Bulgarian Government will sever ties with the Neo-Otomans.