EU turns down Bulgaria's request to join Schengen in March

EU turns down Bulgaria's request to join Schengen in March

Bulgaria has failed to secure its admission to Europe's borderless 25-nation Schengen zone in March, according to a decision of the working group evaluating the state's preparedness to join the passport-free area.

The control of Bulgaria's border with Turkey turned out to be the major obstacle to its Schengen accession, according to the report elaborated by European experts, who inspected in December on site the criteria's implementation in the country. The report also showed that the biggest problems along the southern border were the shortages of staff and equipment, as well as the lack of observation points outside the checkpoints.

The state's failure to fulfill the technical criteria would prompt a second inspection of EU experts to Bulgaria, which will take place in up to two months.

According to Boyko Kotsev, Bulgaria's ambassador to the European Commission, a decision on the Schengen entry of Bulgaria and Romania will be taken by the end of the year. During the meeting in Brussels, EU experts specified the measures which should be implemented by the country, highlighting that they were achievable in the short term, he told state-run radio BNR.

On Friday, the parliament endorsed a declaration supporting the government's efforts to join the passport-free zone. In turn, the cabinet would need to draw up a foreign policy programme on Bulgaria's future accession to the borderless travel zone.

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