PM Denkov: Bulgarian and Romanian Schengen accession will make Europe stronger

In his address to MEPs, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov called on the EU to play a more active role on the international stage, as a mediator and guarantor of peace.
During his “This is Europe” address, Prime Minister Denkov warned that Russia is using economic and cultural ties to divide Bulgarian society. He stressed that EU and NATO membership are the greatest guarantee to continue the path to democratic and European development for Bulgaria. “This is why we need to complete our European integration by joining the Schengen area and the Eurozone,” he added.

Prime Minister Denkov reiterated Bulgaria’s fulfilment of all necessary Schengen requirements and that “any further postponement is unacceptable and demotivating” for the country and its people. With the entry of Bulgaria and Romania in Schengen, “Europe’s borders will be better protected, and Europe will be stronger”.

Commenting on the contemporary geopolitical situation, Mr Denkov warned that Europe should not underestimate the prospect of the conflict in the Middle East, sparked by Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack and Israel’s large-scale military response, expanding. Citing signs of fatigue from the war in Ukraine and the reluctance of some to continue to bear the consequences, he firmly stressed that “by defending Ukraine, we defend Europe”.

Urging Europe to stand united and play a more active role on the international stage, as a strong mediator and guarantor of peace, he added “the EU must strengthen its strategic ties with NATO allies and its defence capabilities, including carefully considering the idea of creating a single European army”.

Watch President Metsola’s introduction and Prime Minister Denkov’s speech here.

MEP’s reactions

In reaction to Mr Denkov’s address, a majority of MEPs called for the end, once and for all, of the discrimination of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens and demanded Council vote on the Schengen accession of both countries before the end of 2023. MEPs welcomed the pro-European government in the country and recently adopted reforms, but urged quick action on the use of EU funds. Some asked Bulgaria to close loopholes around the circumvention of sanctions on Russian gas and to do more to protect the environment, the rights of minorities, and to support EU enlargement in the Western Balkans.

A recording of the first round of EP speakers is available here, the rest of the MEP interventions are here and the Prime Minister’s closing remarks is available here. You can watch the full debate here.


This was the twelfth “This is Europe” plenary debate, and the fifth in 2023, following Cyprus’ President Christodoulides (13 June), Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz (9 May), Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel (19 April) and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda (14 March). The EU leaders who participated in this debate series in 2022 were Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, and Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob.