EC Counters Sarkozy on Bulgaria, Romania Schengen AccessionBulgaria in EU | November 22, 2010, Monday // 19:56| views
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Malstrom in Brussels Monday, Nov 22, 2010. Photo by BGNES
Bulgaria and Romania's joining the Schengen Agreement should not be mixed with their post-EU accession monitoring mechanism, EU Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom has warned.
Malstrom's comment comes a day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that the decision on whether to admit the two countries to the Schengen Area must await the completion of Bulgaria and Romania's so-called Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), a mechanism for EC monitoring of their progress on corruption, crime, and judiciary reform.
Sarkozy has made it clear he doubted the two Balkan states' abilities to guard the external borders of the EU as full-fledged Schengen members. The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Finland have also indicated they had concerns with respect to Bulgaria and Romania's potential Schengen accession.
According to EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malstrom, however, the European Commission has always stated that the Schengen criteria and the CVM are two completely different and separate mechanisms that should not be viewed as interconnected.
Malstrom spoke at a news conference on Internal Security Strategy at EU headquaters in Brussels Belgium Monday, as cited by the BNR.
The Commissioner said that the European Commission is currently studying Bulgaria and Romania's preparedness to join the Schengen visa-free area, and that it will come up with a recommendation on whether to accept the two countries at the beginning of 2011.
Bulgaria's Borisov government hoped for a Schengen entry in March 2011 but recent indications from Paris have cooled down its hopes.
Last week Paris said Bulgaria and Romania are not ready to join the Schengen Agreement in March 2011, confirming France's intention to block the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the latest EU entrants, to the borderless Schengen Area.
The Balkan country has also started working with the Schengen Information System (SIS).
Bulgaria's government has been keeping a low profile over France's Roma crackdown, apparently fearing that tension with Paris might put at risk its Schengen accession.
The country hopes to join the EU's border-free zone by the end of 2011 as scheduled and the official line is that recent expulsions of mostly Romanian and Bulgarian Roma from France is irrelevant to that process.
Bulgaria submitted its formal declaration of readiness in September 2007 and sent European authorities follow-up reports, penning in March 2011 as the target date for accession to the Schengen zone.
The estimates turned meaningless due to a delay in the award of a tender to produce biometric passports and lack of progress on the second generation of the EU's Schengen Information System, more commonly known as SISII.
The 1985 Schengen Agreement is an agreement among most Western and Central European countries which allows for the abolition of systematic border controls between the participating countries.
By the Treaty of Amsterdam, the agreement itself and all decisions having been enacted on its basis had been implemented into the law of the European Union.
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