Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner says his country will veto Romania and Bulgaria joining the passport-free Schengen Area.
Gerhard Karner spoke Thursday morning as he arrived for a meeting of EU justice and interior ministers in Brussels.
The meeting was expected to approve Croatia joining Schengen.
The zone currently includes 22 EU members and non-EU countries Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.
Accession requires unanimity and one simple „no” can derail the whole agreement.
Austria’s position has angered Romania and Bulgaria, who point out that their bids are unconditionally backed by the European Commission, the European Parliament and most member states.
„The current state of uncertainty cannot continue. We have all the arguments, very solid, that support our requests,” Romanian Premier Nicolae Ciucă said on Wednesday.
Romania and Bulgaria want to join Schengen to ease trade with the rest of Europe but are facing concerns from Austria in particular over migration from non-EU countries.
A negative outcome would be a political blow to both Romania and Bulgaria which have been waiting to join for over a decade.