Romania Got Denied Schengen Because of Austria's Veto

Companies ♦ Published: December 11, 2022; 23:31 ♦ (Vindobona)

On Thursday, the 26 responsible ministers of the Schengen states held a summit in Tirana where Austria denied Romania and Bulgaria access to the Schengen area. Chancellor Karl Nehammer made reassuring statements on Saturday regarding this issue.

Chancellor Karl Nehammer confirmed the decision to leave Romania and Bulgaria out of the Schengen Area. / Picture: © ÖVP Bundespartei / Jacob Glaser

A few days ago, at the minister summit of the Schengen states, Austria's Interior Minister Gerhard Karner made a predictable decision regarding the expansion of the Schengen Area. Austria used its Veto to deny access to Romania and Bulgaria. This decision sparked a lot of anger, not only in the two affected countries but there was also criticism inside the EU. Croatia on the other hand was granted access to the Area.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer made statements regarding the issue during press hour on Saturday. According to ORF, he confirmed the Interior Minister's decision by citing migration data from the Interior Ministry. Of the more than 100,000 seizures of migrants or asylum seekers, 75,000 have not yet been registered. That should have happened when crossing the EU's external border. And many of those unregistered would come via Romania or Bulgaria. We know that from surveys of those apprehended and the evaluation of their mobile phone data.

When asked why Austria did not choose the usual path in the EU, namely to look for allies among the other states and thus achieve changes, Nehammer said that no other country - proportional to the population - had a similar pressure as Austria. In the other EU countries, there is simply a different awareness of the problem than in Austria. If the Commission doesn't act, you have to act "strongly" and nationally, he stated on ORF.

According to Kurier, Nehammer emphasized the "brake on asylum" that he had instituted, among other things through joint police patrols of the Austrian and Hungarian police forces on Hungarian territory, cooperation between Serbia and Hungary to strengthen border police in both countries, and ending asylum tourism via Serbia through an end to visa-free entry. Visa-free entry for Tunisian citizens via Serbia has been stopped since mid-November, and from 1 January 2023 visa-free entry for Indian citizens will also no longer be possible.

Both Romania and Bulgaria were angered by this decision. Romania summoned its ambassador to Austria and people in Romania called for a boycott of Austrian companies and Products, according to Der Standard. Even the sign pointing to the Austrian Embassy in Bucharest has been taken down. In a sense, the grudge isn't entirely new. Recent years have seen criticism of Austrian companies deforesting Romanian primeval forests.

According to Der Standard, Rumania feels betrayed by this decision since it was expected that the differences of the last few days would be put aside. After Nehammer's confirmation of the decision, there is not a solution in sight since Austria is still worried about asylum seekers. Croatia on the other hand got a positive response and will join the Schengen area on January 1st, 2023.