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May 17, 2022

Schengen accession, more likely in second half of 2011

German Ambassador to Bulgaria Matthias Hoepfner said on Tuesday that the second half of the year is a more realistic date for Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area, HotNews reported.
According to the Germany envoy, Schengen accession will depend on the conclusions of the European Commission’s justice monitoring reports. “I think it is unacceptable to evaluate the stage of technical preparations for Schengen separately from the real situation of connected fields, such as the fight against corruption and organised crime. We cannot turn a blind eye on the fact both corruption and organised crime will become factors in the release of Schengen visas,” the German diplomat said in an interview to the Bulgarian section of ‘Deutsche Welle’.

As for speculation that Bulgaria’s failure to meet all technical requirements in the accession process, Hoepfner underlined that Sofia reported significant progress in this matter. “Small setbacks can be surpassed rapidly,” Hoepfner said.

Also on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Sofia Foreign Ministry, Vesela Cherneva, said Bulgaria will address all the problems at its border with Turkey by the end of March and after that it will begin political consultations with Schengen member states that oppose its accession. Cherneva also said that the conditions set by Berlin and Paris for accession should be defined more clearly. The French and German interior ministries officially asked the European Commission to postpone Romania’s and Bulgaria’s Schengen accession, initially scheduled to take place in March, citing problems in meeting the Mechanism of Cooperation and Verification (MCV) benchmarks on corruption and organised crime. Bucharest officials reacted angrily to the news, accusing the two EU member states of discriminatory attitudes. According to Bucharest officials, Romania will continue procedures to obtain approval of all member states for accession this spring, without delays. Specialists quoted by the public radio channel believe that if this is not possible, Romania should at least obtain a clearer perspective on the targets it has to meet to join the border-free zone and some clear deadlines.

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