Members of the European Parliament from Romania and Bulgaria say these two countries should stick together in their efforts to join the Schengen Area, by also preparing joint initiatives to stress how important it is for these countries to become part of the zone.
According to Bulgarian MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk, the two countries plan to hold conferences in their respective countries, in an effort to emphasize the importance of Schengen accession, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
These comments were made during a conference in Sofia, where MEPs also pointed out that both countries are aiming to join Schengen in autumn 2023 while continuing their journeys individually could cause the countries to develop economic and political wounds.
“The Danube is not only a physical border, but also a cultural border. We have to build bridges – cultural bridges. We should stick together,” Vlad Botos, the Romanian MEP said.
He also added that the two Schengen candidates entered the EU together and will enter Schengen together, as well. Bulgaria and Romania are also planning to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
According to Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria Atanas Pekanov, joining Schengen, OECD and the eurozone should be priorities for these countries. Out of all EU members, only Romania, Bulgaria, Malta, Cyprus and Croatia haven’t joined OECD yet.
Joining the Schengen Zone is also one of the priorities for both of these countries but not all Member States support this idea. Austria and the Netherlands opposed Bulgaria’s entry into the zone, while only Austria was against the proposal for Romania to become a Schengen country.
Former Bulgarian Minister for European Affairs, Gergana Passy, denounced the government for not being active after joining the EU, saying reforms were put on pause and the country launched fewer public information campaigns.
“What is this public campaign that the Bulgarian government has started since 2009 and finished until now? Did we have a public campaign for Schengen, for the eurozone or for any big goal that we want to achieve as an EU member state?” she asked at the conference.
Both countries have high hopes to join the Schengen Zone by this year, emphasising the contribution of the countries to prevent illegal migration to the Union.
According to the Romanian president, Klaus Iohannis, the countries are doing everything to protect the EU’s external borders, and they expect to receive a positive vote from the Member States for entry into Schengen in 2023.