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January 31, 2023
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Schengen: Austria Is the Final Frontier for Romania

Time ago, during the Austro-Hungarian empire, Romania had Transylvania taken from the motherland. It was a dark period for the country, and it was only in 1918 that Romania had its three historic provinces united again – Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania.

During that dark time for the country, its Western borders separated Romania from the Austro-Hungarian empire. Even to this day, Romanians can’t forget the bitterness of that distant past.

More than a century later, things should’ve changed, though. Romania, Austria and Hungary are part of the same European Union, and the three countries should’ve long left behind their tumultuous past. It’s not like it.

Let’s say it politely, Hungary cannot be named Romania’s best neighbour. The constant care for provoking Romania seems to be the new politics in Budapest. The most recent incident of this kind was when the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wore a scarf with an imprinted version of so-called Great Hungary.

Austria is not far from this behaviour as well. The Austrian companies have invested in Romania, but sometimes these investments seem like something else. One of these is the investment of Holzindustrie Schweighofer, one of the most prominent European wood processors. A few years ago, the Romanian branches of the group faced public rage when they found out that the Austrian company bought wood from illegal loggers during Romania’s massive deforestation.

Now, the very same Austria is the only country to oppose Romania’s accession to Schengen. After the Swedish parliament and the Dutch government greenlighted Romania’s road to the free economic area, Austria remained the final frontier for a country which, technically, has accomplished all the criteria to join the area since 2011.

As we mentioned, Romania is unlikely to join Schengen this December. Will the almighty Austrian Minister of Interior understand that the migrants arriving in Austria do not cross Romania on their way to Western Europe? We can find out on December 8 at the soonest when the JAI Council (Justice and Internal Affairs) will give a vote on the subject.

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