Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has sharply criticized Austria for its veto against the admission of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area.

“Not only would I have wished for a different decision today, in which Bulgaria and especially Romania would also be included in the Schengen area, but it is a serious disappointment,” said the Green politician on Thursday during a visit to the Irish capital Dublin. “I think that the fact that things have changed because of the Austrian veto and this forced decision is more than wrong in terms of European politics and geopolitics.”

“Instead of a good and strong day for Europe, we have a bad day for Europe today,” criticized Baerbock. “And I think everyone should reflect for themselves whether that was really the right decision.” The federal government and she herself on the phone fought to the last minute for Bulgaria and especially Romania to be included in the Schengen area . “At the end of this hard, not to say brutal, European year, we could have taken another step towards deepening Europe,” said Baerbock. This has now turned out differently.

While the responsible ministers of the 26 Schengen countries cleared the way for Croatia to join the Schengen area without border controls on Thursday in Brussels, the admission of Romania and Bulgaria was blocked primarily by Austria. The Schengen area currently includes 22 EU countries as well as Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland. There are usually no stationary border controls at the internal borders between these countries. This makes it the world’s largest area of ​​freedom to travel. New members can only be admitted unanimously. Romania and Bulgaria have been waiting for the decision since 2011.