By the end of 2011 Brussels is to take a decision on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the newcomers to the 27-member EU, into the Schengen area. Most probably, the accession of the two countries will be carried out in two stages - the EU will open its air and sea borders for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in March 2012, and the land borders should be opened in July.
"This is provided in the protocol of the latest sitting of the European Council on the recommendation of its President Herman van Rompuy," said Bulgaria's PM Boyko Borissov as quoted by the national radio.
The protocol also states that Bulgaria and Romania are absolutely ready to join Schengen. "Today's debate was a hard one as all delegates were aware of the widening debt crisis in the Eurozone. Although the attention of Brussels is now focused on finding a resolution to the financial crisis, and the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen was not the priority agenda, the European Council agreed that a decision on the entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen area in March and July next year will be sought by the end of 2011," Borissov said. (Source: Standart News)