The Netherlands ceases resistance against Bulgaria in Schengen

The Netherlands has dropped its previous objections to Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen area and agreed to it on Friday after years of resistance. The Schengen zone now consists of 27 European countries where travel is possible without border controls. 

For a long time, the Netherlands felt that the Eastern European country did not meet the conditions for accession and was under pressure within the EU to admit Bulgaria.

In addition to the Netherlands, Austria also opposed Bulgaria's accession. Sofia and Vienna are still discussing how to overcome this resistance so that the accession can be completed. The change in the Netherlands could help with this, it is expected. It is now Austria that can remove the last hurdle for Bulgaria.

A fact-finding mission was recently carried out in Bulgaria, partly at the request of Austria and the Netherlands, led by the European Commission, during which no shortcomings were found. However, the Netherlands insists that Bulgaria “continues to work on strong external borders”. 

So much has improved that it “would simply be very unfair” if the Netherlands continued to block Bulgaria, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in the corridors of the EU summit in Brussels. The Netherlands has been doing this for 'about fourteen or fifteen years', but 'you can really see that progress now. Then you have to be honest,” said Rutte.