Deutsche Welle: Why the EU does not Want to Hurry with Bulgaria's Entry into Schengen

Opinions | February 1, 2018, Thursday // 14:07|  views

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Bulgaria is not ready yet: the Bavarian Interior Minister is against the rapid adoption of the country in Schengen. Obviously, Europe does not want to repeat its mistake with the hasty eastern enlargement of the EU, German-language media write.

Bavarian Minister Joachim Herrmann's arguments: "The Schengen area should in no case be extended to the detriment of the security of German citizens." The Minister said this to the newspaper "Welt am Zontag". He sees such a danger from the "widespread corruption and organized crime" in Bulgaria and Romania.

"It is difficult to explain why we would have to return the border controls to Austria and at the same time give up on the borders of Bulgaria and Romania because of the insufficient security of the EU's external borders there," said the Bavarian Interior Minister, quoted by DPA. He is, in principle, for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen, but in the longer term. "This is generally desirable," says Herrmann. But it's too early, he says.

"Bulgaria has to wait," the newspaper Welt am Zonta wrote on the same occasion. The publication points out that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov who urges his country to be quickly admitted to Schengen. EC Chief Executive Jean-Claude Juncker said last year that if the EU wanted to strengthen the security at its external border, "Romania and Bulgaria should be accepted in Schengen without any delay". German Chancellor Angela Merkel in principle shares Juncker's view and defines his proposal as a "sensible approach," recalls the publication.

The mistake of the Eastern enlargement of the EU

In another of its related publications, Sunday's edition of Die Welt points out that the Eastern enlargement of the EU is a misunderstanding. When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, it quickly became clear that eastern European countries most of all in the world want to become part of NATO and the EU - as quickly as possible. On the one hand - in order not to feel threatened by Russia, whose imperial ambitions these countries had to endure for many years. But another motif was more important: just because they were on the eastern side of the Oder-Nisa line, these countries were robbed of sovereignty, their societies were held under a very ambitious dictatorial regime, and were therefore not allowed to develop. Could then, after the end of the division of Europe, have something more logical than these countries to be quickly integrated into Europe - including as a form of compensation for their long-term deprivation? The desire was enormous at that time, and Europe had no other choice - if it had not responded to their wish, a conflict could have taken place. And a quick decision was made on the so-called Eastern enlargement of the EU.

But something very important was neglected: which countries were to be integrated with the West, it was definitely purely formal, without getting into the content of the matter. Poland is one of the brightest examples of this: for the past two centuries, it has been a sovereign state for a short time - it has been divided, occupied, and harassed many times. At times it has even disappeared completely from the map of Europe as an independent state. With the fall of the Iron Curtain, new countries emerged, and old ones - such as Poland and Hungary - regained their independence. They thought that by joining the Western community, they would preserve their sovereignty. But they ignored (deliberately or not) the fact that they have been surrendering part of their sovereignty since the first minute of their EU membership. It is precisely this misunderstanding that is due to much of today's intra-EU conflict between the eastern and western members of the community. And this is best illustrated by the issue of refugees and their distribution in Europe.

East to West

At the moment it seems that Europe is threatened by a new division on the East-West axis. But the EU is no longer the one before 1989, it can not and can no longer be the old EU. No one believes that the differences between the eastern and the western countries can be wiped out for two or three generations. But they can not also be an eternal burden for Europe. That is why Merkel, Macron, and the whole old EU have to devote themselves much more energetically than ever to the problems of Eastern Europe. And especially now that this task seems so hopeless.

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Tags: EU, Schengen, Eastern Europe


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