Romania Considers Decoupling from Bulgaria for Schengen Accession

Bucharest could consider decoupling from Sofia for Schengen accession if negotiations indicate a favorable outcome, said Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu in an interview with Bloomberg.

In his interview with Bloomberg in Bucharest, Marcel Ciolacu described Austria’s decision to keep Romania at the gates of Schengen alongside Bulgaria as a “profound injustice,” preventing both Romania and Bulgaria from entering the European area of free movement, hindered by Austria and the Netherlands.

The Prime Minister stated that he would ask Spain, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council until the end of the year, to organize an extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA)in December to reexamine Romania’s Schengen candidacy.

The meeting will take place after the elections in the Netherlands on November 22, where the political calculation may change.

Marcel Ciolacu also mentioned that Bucharest might consider decoupling from Bulgaria if negotiations indicate a better outcome. He emphasized Romania’s solidarity with EU and NATO allies as a country bordering Ukraine.

“Romania is the one that has taken on most of the transit of Ukrainian exports. It is essential for Europe to have Romania and Bulgaria in Schengen,” said Marcel Ciolacu.

Referring to Austria’s “unjustified veto,” Ciolacu said his government is also considering legal action in the European Court of Justice. He criticized the Vienna government, stating that Austria benefits from the European Sky Shield initiative, even though it is a neutral country, while Romania, a NATO member, contributes to the defense of the region. “It is very difficult for me to accept that Austria benefits from the European Sky Shield initiative, even though it is a neutral country, while Romania allocates 2.5% of its GDP for defense,” Ciolacu said.

Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen was blocked by Austria and the Netherlands at the JHA Council meeting in December 2022. Bucharest had the support of 26 EU member states but was blocked by Austria, which continues to oppose it.

On October 24, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer described the expansion of Schengen as “currently inconceivable” for his country but maintained that this position had nothing to do with Bulgaria and Romania and was due to a security issue.

austriabloombergBucharestBulgariaDecouplingEU CouncilmeetingPrime Minister Marcel CiolacuRomaniarotating presidencySchengenSofiaSpainthe netherlandsukraine
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  • Panagiotis Spyridis

    Decoupling with Bulgaria is a good tactical threat but it will not help Romania when we enter with out Bulgaria.