The debate on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen was postponed for end-2013 during Thursday's sitting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA).
During the JHA sitting, most of the member states admitted that Bulgaria and Romania had fulfilled the criteria for Schengen membership and the decision for the accession of the two countries to the passport-free area had to be taken faster, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).
Bulgaria's efforts and the results achieved in guaranteeing the security of the EU's external borders and in combating organized crime were highly appreciated, according to BNR.
Thursday's sitting of the JHA resulted in a decision to postpone the debate on the expansion of Schengen for end-2013 so that a positive decision could be taken.
Bulgaria's representative at the JHA sitting was outgoing Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.
The Irish EU Presidency warned on Wednesday that no decision on the Schengen accession of Bulgaria and Romania would be made on Thursday due to the opposition of several member states.
The number of countries opposing the expansion of Schengen has grown to three, with Germany, France and the Netherlands voicing dissatisfaction with the progress of the two countries in combating corruption.
Any move to expand the Schengen area must be approved by a unanimous vote by all 27 EU governments.