Bulgaria, Romania May Make It Into Schengen by Fall 2011- Romanian Foreign Minister

Bulgaria in EU | May 13, 2011, Friday // 16:12|  views

Bulgaria and Romania may join Schengen by fall 2011, according to Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Baconschi. Photo by BGNES.

Berlin, Paris and Brussels are seeking a compromise to allow Romania and Bulgaria into Schengen in the fall of 2011, said Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Baconschi in an interview for Romanian daily Adevarul.

Baconschi reminded that Romania had successfully completed the technical assessment process, stressing that the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs had given given the green light to Romania and Bulgaria's entry into the Schengen area.

The Romanian Foreign Minister drew attention to the efforts invested in reaching a compromise on the matter, citing the working meeting organized in April in Berlin with the participation of the current Hungarian EU Presidency, the successive Polish EU Presidency and some sceptically inclined countries.

According to Baconschi, Romania, which boasted a strong tradition of good relations with the old regimes in the Arab world, is optimistic about the revolutions in these countries.

"I believe, however, that we must step up our presence there, including on a diplomatic level. I aim to visit Cairo and Tunisia as soon as possible", the Minister pointed out.

Experts have voiced fears that Bulgaria and Romania's accession into the border-free zone may suffer from tensions among other EU states caused by the waves of immigrants from North Africa.

Bulgaria and Romania have failed to join the Schengen Agreement by the original deadline of March 2011 because of some Bulgarian border control issues.

More importantly, however, Bulgaria and Romania's Schengen entry has been facing political opposition by key EU Member States such as France, Germany, and the Netherlands, whose governments have demanded that the Balkan states' accession to the border-free zone be made conditional on their post-EU accession monitoring, the so-called Cooperation and Verification Mechanism - EC reports issued each July on problem areas such as organized crime and judicial reform, which are technically unrelated to the Schengen criteria.

France and Germany continue to be firmly against Bucharest and Sofia joining Schengen, citing the Balkan states' unpreparedness and warning of the underlying threat for entire Europe of such a measure. The Netherlands, on the other hand, insists on making sure of certain progress in the sphere of justice and fight against corruption before backing Romania's Schengen bid.

Corruption, excessive administrative burden and the slow pace of justice have been the key problematic aspects hindering the two countries' accession into Schengen.

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Tags: Teodor Baconschi, Bulagria, Romania, Schengen, Schengen zone, Verification and Cooperation Mechanism, corruption, slow justice process, administrative burden, Arab world, immigrant flow


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