Romania’s Schengen accession has become a hot potato for all countries

The French ambassador to Bucharest says.
French ambassador Philippe Gustin stated in an interview for Mediafax that Romania’s Schengen accession has become a political issue and a hot potato every EU country is trying to get rid of, and Bucharest cannot do anything about the states that link this dossier with the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM). “Today it is the fault of the Netherlands, tomorrow it will be the fault of Germany, then of France. There has never been a consensus. And a positive answer on the Schengen issue will come the moment there is a consensus, when all countries will agree. This consensus has to be reached, and we are cooperating with Romania, with other countries in order to reach it as soon as possible,” Gustin stated.
Referring to the link between Schengen and the CVM, the French ambassador stated that Romania cannot oppose the states that link the two dossiers. “There is no juridical link between the CVM and Schengen, but the rule of law, corruption, are elements that influence the decision of certain countries. (…) There is no juridical link, it’s true, but you cannot prevent the countries that decide that from saying: “since this country hasn’t fulfilled all the rule of law criteria included in the CVM, we are concerned for tomorrow,” Philippe Gustin pointed out. “Romania is not in Schengen and the Roma are everywhere in Europe; Great Britain is not in Schengen and it has Roma. It’s simple, the link between Schengen and migration is a false link,” the ambassador pointed out, being of the opinion that things could evolve this year because there will no longer be an electoral context.
Infrastructure and targeted financial audits
At the same time, the French ambassador stated that Romania has problems in what concerns infrastructure and the way the fight against corruption is handled. In his opinion, it is important for Romania to rapidly have highway and railway infrastructure connected with Western Europe, since companies such as Dacia export in the West and delivery delays influence the cost of auto vehicles. The French diplomat stated that Renault has complained about this problem several times, pointing out that a highway that would link Pitesti to Hungary would be good.
On the other hand, Gustin emphasized that French investments in Romania are doing well, despite the crisis, this being the reason why the French embassy will organize an economic forum in Bucharest on February 11-12, the representatives of companies and investors from several regional countries being set to attend it.
In what concerns the detection of fraud, the French ambassador believes that financial audits have to be targeted, not generalized, in order to avoid blocking everything. He said that in Romania the Court of Accounts audits are part of the fight against corruption but should target large infrastructure projects and public works, as happens in France.
Gustin also said that the fight against the high-level corruption that represents “the main subject of news” should continue, but small-level corruption should be tackled too. “The true stake today is corruption on all levels. Corruption, for example, when obtaining a university diploma, corruption in hospitals, in the health system, this is not perceived,” the diplomat stated.
Pilot program concerning Roma in Ferentari, “a success”
Philippe Gustin had advice for Romanians in the cultural and social domains too. For instance, he considers that the pilot project implemented by France and Romania in the Ferentari neighborhood, a program dedicated to Roma ethnics but also to the area’s poor inhabitants, is a success that can represent a model in what concerns changing things and the bleak feeling that nothing can be done. The ambassador stated however that although it is good that each country has developed a strategy for the Roma, a European strategy on this issue is also called for.

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