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Romania may sue Austria over Schengen

| 2023-09-19 2 min read

Romania may sue Austria over Schengen

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu on Monday 18 September issued a warning to Austria, stating that if Austria does not remove its veto on Romania’s Schengen accession bid by December, Romania will take the matter to the EU Court of Justice.

Austria has been blocking the entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the EU’s border-free Schengen area, citing concerns about a potential increase in irregular migration.

Now Romania is prepared to challenge this blockade in the EU court if it remains unresolved after the next two meetings of EU interior and justice ministers, Euractiv wrote.

Ciolacu emphasized this stance at a meeting of his Social Democratic Party (PDS) leadership, saying, “If Austria votes against Romania’s Schengen accession in December, I will certainly appeal to the ECJ.”

Romania has previously indicated its intention to pursue legal action in this matter. As early as June, a senior Romanian MEP suggested that legal action might be the only path for the country to join the border-free area.

Austria is seemingly undeterred by Bucharest’s threats. Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner reiterated Austria’s opposition to Schengen expansion, emphasizing the need for more border controls in Europe, not fewer. Austria has already implemented preliminary controls at its borders with Slovenia and Hungary and is considering introducing controls at the Italian border.

Given the increasing migration and the reintroduction of border controls in Europe, Austria argues that expanding the Schengen area would not be practical.

According to Reinhold Lopatka, an MP and spokesperson for EU affairs for the governing OVP, Austria’s veto is based on concerns about the Schengen system currently being marred by several internal border controls. Moreover, it remains uncertain whether legal action would be successful, as Schengen accessions require unanimity, and Austria justifies its veto on grounds of increased migration and the current dysfunction of the Schengen system.