Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said Thursday morning before the JHA Council that he would vote against the extension of the Schengen Area, reiterating Austria’s position in recent weeks.
“I spoke earlier with my Romanian colleagues. I think Austria is jeopardizing its good reputation in Eastern Europe. Today I will vote against the extension of Schengen with Romania and Bulgaria. It is a mistake for a system that in many places does not work to be expanded. This year, in Austria, there were 100,000 illegal border crossings. Of these, 75,000 were not registered. It is proof that the system does not work”, he declared for the Austrian press, before the JAI meeting.
Later, Karner ignored the journalists from Romania, present in Brussels, who tried to ask him some questions.
His statement was made just a few minutes before the start of the JHA Council, where the interior ministers of the member states will discuss the expansion of the Schengen Area with Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Croatia has a good chance of being admitted to Schengen today, being supported by all the states, while Austria votes against Romania, and Austria and the Netherlands voted against Bulgaria.
The Minister of the Interior, Lucian Bode, declared on Thursday morning, before attending the JAI Council, that his mandate is to request a debate and vote for Romania’s accession to the Schengen area. “We will accept any compromise in Romania’s interest”, said Bode.
“We are entering the debate and vote with the joint accession proposal of Romania and Bulgaria. Depending on the option of each member state, through the interior ministers, things can evolve in one direction or another. My mandate is to support Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area and I am voting today. In the most optimistic scenario, by January 1st we are able to prepare the Schengen external border as required by all regulations in the field. If the draft decision on the agenda were to be adopted with the lifting of the land borders from January 1 and the air borders from March 26, Romania is ready to enter Schengen with the lifting of border controls as provided for in this decision”, said Bode.
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Romania brilliantly fulfilled all the necessary criteria and deserves to be admitted to the Schengen Area, declared one of the vice-presidents of the European Commission. Margaritis Schinas claims that the decision is strictly political, in the context in which the admission of our country would represent a gain for the EU bloc.
Statements of support also came from the representative of the Czech Republic, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, as well as France and Germany.