The Dutch government decided this Friday that it will accept Romania and Croatia to join the Schengen area, so that their citizens can travel freely through this area, but it will block the entry of Bulgaria because it believes that it does not meet the necessary conditions to adhere to this treaty.
In a decision taken in today's Council of Ministers, the Dutch government analyzed the possible extension to three more countries of the Schengen area provided for in the agenda of the Interior Ministers of the European Union (EU) on December 8, and only agreed give the go-ahead to Romania and Croatia.
The Dutch Foreign Minister, Wopke Hoekstra, explained to the press that "it is still too early" to accept Bulgaria's access to Schengen, and that the Netherlands will make a new evaluation to try to support this step only when it is proven that Sofia is a constitutional State that is capable of combating corruption and organized crime.
According to the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, this reassessment will be "perhaps next year", but he regretted that, for now, there are still concerns about border control, because "in theory, there is a risk of starting a migratory flow through such a country” and wants first to exclude the possibility of illegal crossings of the Schengen border into Bulgaria.
The EU ministers will only be able to agree next week on the accession of new countries to the Schengen treaty unanimously, and although it is not clear if there are more European countries that will vote against it, only the blockade by the Netherlands would already prevent the access of Bulgaria.
Secretary of State Eric van der Burg stressed that he does not know if the Netherlands is the only one that is going to veto Sofia's access, but he does not see it as a problem if that were the case. “Not because everyone else agrees on something, we should too. Things don't work like that, ”he assured, according to public television NOS.
“There are people in Europe who are putting pressure on us, but we can also just resist the pressure. It's simple: if you abide by the agreements and meet the criteria, you are welcome in Schengen," Van der Burg added.
The Schengen treaty, for the free movement of goods and people, is now made up of 22 EU countries (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Croatia and Romania are left out) and four outside the EU (Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland ).
Both Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007 and their entry into Schengen has so far been treated en bloc. Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden have expressed reservations about the entry of both countries into Schengen, alleging problems of corruption, competition and organized crime.