Romania and Bulgaria have to report steady progress in the anti-corruption battle and in the reform of the judiciary before being allowed to join the Schengen Area. “This is a sure thing. They shouldn’t put it on the agenda (e.n. of the EU summit). For us, the answer is clear,” the Dutch minister of Immigration and Asylum, Gerd Leers, stated, quoted by Mediafax, referring to the proposal of addressing the topic of the two countries’ Schengen accession during the December 9 EU leaders’ summit. According to the same source, Netherlands will analyze the European Commission report concerning Romania’s and Bulgaria’s efforts to eradicate corruption, to be released in February, to see whether any progress has been made. “If we find, in February, progress was made, this will be a start,” he added.
According to Leers, there is a risk that Bulgaria will be faced with the same situation as Greece, which has trouble keeping out illegal immigrants trying to penetrate into the EU from Turkey. “We have to ensure that what is going on in Greece won’t happen in Bulgaria,” the minister argued. These statements come about a month after reports that Finland has gone back on its stand concerning Romania’s and Bulgaria’s Schengen accession. The Scandinavian country now backs the project that EU should open its air and sea borders with Romania and Bulgaria in March 2012, while arguing the matter of land borders should be addressed in July. We remind our readers that Romania and Bulgaria should have joined the Schengen Area in the spring of 2011, but their accession was opposed by France and Germany, which pointed to the problems of corruption and organized crime. In September, Finland and The Netherlands opposed the setting of a date for the two countries’ Schengen accession.