Austria will not agree to an expansion of the Schengen area, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner announced on Friday, quoted by Kurier and Der Standard publications, G4Media reported. “The system is dysfunctional. The situation in Europe shows very clearly that the protection of external borders has failed,” he said.
It is the first time that an Austrian government official has come out publicly to announce his country’s opposition.
The Netherlands is already known as an opponent of Romania’s and Bulgaria’s joining Schengen, claiming there are still unsolved issued regarding the rule of law and corruption in these two countries.
The opposition is Sweden has also voiced disagreement against Schengen’s enlargement with Romania and Bulgaria, yet the government in Stockholm announced he is in favour.
This week, the European Commission ruled in favor of expanding the border-free Schengen area to include Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania. The decisive vote should take place in Brussels on December 8 and unanimity is required.
Enlargement will therefore be a hot topic at next week’s special meeting of home ministers, as some voices would favor a separate file for Croatia in joining the Schengen area. However, there will be no special vote for Croatia, as the Czech Presidency of the Council wants accession to be voted on as a bloc only.