French Ambassador in Bucharest Henri Paul has said that Bulgaria and Romania will join Schengen in end-2012 under the worst case scenario.
According to the diplomat, as cited by Bulgarian Sega daily, the attitudes among the current Schengen members towards the two candidate countries differ considerably.
Henri Paul has also confirmed that the air borders of Bulgaria and Romania are very likely to become EU external borders in September.
A plan for Bulgaria's two-phase accession to the Schengen zone was made public in June.
According to the scheme, if EC's report due on July 20 comes positive, Bulgaria's air borders will be opened first, while sea and land borders will be opened at a second stage.
Although the Working Group on Schengen Matters (Sch-Eval) at the Council of EU has unanimously approved the report on Bulgaria's technical preparedness, countries like France, Germany and the Netherlands have questioned the country's ability to guard EU's external borders.
Bulgaria and Romania were initially hoping to join the Schengen Area by March 2011 but leading Western European state like Germany, France and the Netherlands insisted that the countries' Schengen accession be tied to the implementation of the criteria under the European Commission's Cooperation and Verification Mechanism in the area of justice and home affairs.
A new country can join the visa-free network only with a unanimous agreement from all 26 Schengen members./Source: Sofia News Agency/