POLITICS

Barroso: The accession of Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen, a matter of fairness

A 10 pc increase of the co-financing rate by the EU, accepted by member states.

By    Carmen Dinu in Brussels and Lavinia Serban in Bucharest

The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said yesterday, after a meeting with President Traian Basescu, that he supports Romania’s accession to the Schengen Zone. “I reaffirmed our support for the accession of Romania to Schengen. We consider that Romania met all the necessary criteria in view of the accession, and joining Schengen simply is a matter of fairness. This is why I want to convey to the Romanian people (the message) that the EC supports the objective of your country to enter the space of free movement and will further do its best to overcome the current blockage, caused by the existence of political obstacles in two member states (the Netherlands and Finland),” Barroso said. Traian Basescu is on a working visit to Brussels, where the main target of talks with Barroso is the use of European funds by Romania. Today, the Romanian president is due to attend the extraordinary meeting of the EU Council.

On the same occasion, Barroso supported the opinion previously voiced by Basescu, that bank recapitalisation in the Euro-zone states should not hamper the flow of liquidities in Romania. “I agree with Mr. President Basescu – a matter that we also discussed at the European Council – that, if we make sure that we regain the confidence in the European banking sector, this must not hamper the flow of liquidities in Romania (…) mother banks must continue to secure cash for their Romanian branches,” Barroso said, quoted by Mediafax. In his turn, President Basescu thanked Barroso for “voicing this concern of the Council.” “We hope it will be accepted at Council level too,” Basescu said.

Referring to the Greek crisis and the decision that the EU leaders are to make today, Basescu stated that a swift decision is called for, arguing that “economic integration is needed more than ever to assist us on the path to creating a united Europe”.

The Romanian head of state also announced, following his meeting with Barroso, that Romania would receive technical assistance from the European Commission to enhance the absorption rate of EU funds. Barroso stated in turn that he had noticed, in the past six months, a series of improvements in Romania’s capacity to absorb structural funds, adding he had called on president Basescu to enhance efforts to meet this target. According to Barroso, Romania is one of the countries which would benefit from the EC’s proposal to supplement its funds by hiking the EU’s co-funding rate by 10 pc.

EP: member states should open up labour markets for Romanians, Bulgarians

All EU member states should allow Bulgarians and Romanians onto their labour markets, according to a resolution passed on Tuesday by the European Parliament. The resolution was drafted by the Romanian MEP Traian Ungureanu (EPP). “Official figures, including figures from the Commission, proved that workers from Eastern Europe did not generate unemployment and did not put pressure on the social welfare systems. On the contrary, the influx brought economic growth in the destination countries evaluated at around 1 percent of the GDP”, said the rapporteur in Monday’s debate. MEPs urged those Member States that still impose restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to remove them by the end of 2011, before the final deadline of 2013 laid down in the EU accession treaty. MEPs also stated that, if necessary, the Commission should exercise its right to initiate infringements against non-compliant Member States.

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