Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov refused on March 1 to be drawn into a discussion on Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen visa-free travel area. The issue was expected to be discussed later in the evening at a meeting of the European Council in Brussels.
Speaking to Bulgarian reporters ahead of a working lunch with leaders of the European People's Party, Borissov said that the Schengen discussion was "done with, as far as I'm concerned," repeating his government's position that Bulgaria had met all the technical requirements for joining the Schengen agreement set by the European Union.
Just hours before the summit, facing a similar barrage of questioning, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte did the same as his Bulgarian counterpart – re-iterating his own cabinet's stance that Bulgaria and Romania had not made sufficient progress towards judiciary reform to persuade the Netherlands from lifting its veto on Schengen accession.
Rutte said a change in its position was only possible if the two countries showed tangible progress in the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism reports.
As it did in December 2011, the European Council is expected to recommend Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the Schengen agreement.
The Netherlands remains the last EU country to block the two countries from joining the Schengen area, a position that, the Dutch government says, is motivated by the inadequate results shown by Bulgaria and Romania in fighting corruption and organised crime.