EU home affairs ministers are in Brussels on Thursday to decide on admitting Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia to the Schengen area, with the latter having the best chance.
The European Commission urged capitals in November, to let the trio join Europe’s passport-free Schengen area, but not all member states supported the proposal.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer reiterated on Tuesday that his government was ready to back Croatia’s accession but would vote against Romania and Bulgaria over irregular migration concerns.
The Dutch parliament adopted a resolution in October, saying a further analysis of the functioning of the rule of law and the extent of corruption and organised crime in Bulgaria and Romania was needed.
Efforts by Bulgaria and Romania to join have been stalled for more than a decade since the commission first deemed the countries Schengen-ready in 2011.
Current members must unanimously approve a country’s accession.
The 26-member Schengen area largely suspends border checks between its members and allows people to travel, work and live in another country without visas or permits.
Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Ireland and Cyprus are the only EU countries that are not part of the Schengen area, while non-EU states Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are members. (dpa/NAN)