The deadline for Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen zone remains 2011, according to a statement from Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov delivered in Brussels on September 21 2009, the Bulgarian National Radio, the BNR has reported.
“We are working with this ambition in mind and so I hope we would be able to catch up”, Tsvetanov said when asked whether the country is capable of fulfilling conditions for entering the Schengen zone within the set timetable.
Apart from Bulgaria and Romania, which are not yet accepted, two other European Union (EU) members, the United Kingdom and Ireland, have opted not to fully participate in the Schengen system agreement. Switzerland, Iceland and Norway are not full members but are associated Schengen member states.
All states in the Schengen zone are EU members, except for the aforementioned Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, which are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). In the case of Switzerland, the country joined the bloc’s passport-free travel zone, the Schengen Area, in December 2008.
During the Brussels meeting, Tsvetanov participated in the EU council held on justice and home affairs, where the admission of immigrants from outside the EU was a major issue addressed by other European leaders.
During the council, Tsvetanov met his German counterpart Wolfgang Scheuble, Austria’s Maria Vechter and Dan Nika, Romania’s deputy chairman and minister of the administration and internal affairs.
Germany’s Wolfgang Scheuble received special acknowledgment from Tsvetanov in light of Germany’s assistance provided to Bulgarian authorities in curtailing corruption and for meeting the criteria for the Schengen zone, the BNR has reported.
Subsequently, Tsvetanov also met EC vice president Jacques Barrot, in charge of justice, freedom and security.