June 29, 2023 –THE HAGUE – The Netherlands and Bulgaria are discussing an invitation from the latter to send Dutch experts to visit the Bulgarian-Turkish border. The new prime minister of the Balkan country, Nikolai Denkov, hopes to persuade the Netherlands to end its opposition to Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Area, currently comprised of 27 European countries that no longer require passport checks or border controls when traveling within the area.
“We are talking, but no decisions have yet been made,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Thursday. He spoke after arriving in Brussels for the European Union summit.
Together with Austria, the Netherlands has blocked Bulgaria from entering the Schengen Area for the time being. They insist that Bulgaria is not ready, arguing there is still a lack of proper surveillance along the borders that would separate Bulgaria from the non-Schengen Area. They have also raised concerns about Bulgaria’s respect for human rights. The European Commission, which closely monitors these issues, thinks otherwise, along with the lion’s share of the other EU countries.
Bulgaria has asked the Netherlands to send Dutch experts to its border with Turkey to see how the Bulgarians operate there, Denkov said. The Dutch experts can then give advice and make it clear what exactly the Netherlands expects from Bulgaria, he told news platform Politico.
The Cabinet is “talking to Bulgaria,” Rutte said. “You help each other in Europe.” But no decisions have yet been made about the invitation, let alone about a breakthrough in Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Area.