Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov said on Thursday, removing borders between the three nations would go against EU legislation, and their governments have no intention of starting official discussions of a zone without border control because it would be illegal , according to Euractiv.
Denkov explained that Bulgaria will seek full acceptance into Schengen according to the official procedure.
He explicitly mentioned that the Bulgarian government is supported by Germany and added that Sofia wants Berlin’s support to achieve full membership in Schengen and the Eurozone by the end of this year and is not seeking to create a separate border-free zone with Romania and Greece.
“Such a removal of the borders (between the three countries) would be contrary to EU legislation. I hear that there are such proposals, but they are not being discussed by the political leaderships of the three countries,” Denkov said ahead of the EU summit in Brussels.
On Monday, Renew Europe MEPs proposed the creation of an informal mini-Schengen between Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria, which was supposed to start functioning in the summer of 2024. The aim was to ease the heavy traffic between the three Balkan countries.
The initiative was launched by Bulgarian MP Daniel Laurer (We Continue the Change party) and Romanian MEPs Dacian Cioloș and Vlad Gheorghe, as well as Greek MEP Giorgos Kyrtsos. The initiative was also announced by the Bulgarian We Continue the Change party, of which Denkov is a member.
The Bulgarian party is a partner of Renew Europe, although it is not officially accepted as a member.
Romanian MEP Vlad Gheorghe told Euractiv Bulgaria during an interview that Bulgaria and Romania are already partially in Schengen, which makes the idea of a mini Schengen in the Balkans quite realistic.
He announced that MEPs had received informal “very positive” signals from the Greek government that they would support the initiative.
From 31 March, Bulgaria and Romania will officially become partial members of the Schengen area, but now only for sea and airport travel. Greece has long been part of the free travel zone but has no land border with a Schengen country.
Only Austria opposes the extension of Schengen with Bulgaria and Romania, with the right-wing government in Vienna arguing that the Schengen agreement does not work.