At the spring European Council, the leaders of the European Union agreed to postpone making a decision on when Romania and Bulgaria join the Schengen Area until September, because of The Netherlands’ veto. More specifically, the Dutch Government argues that Romania and Bulgaria have not made enough progress against corruption and organised crime. Attending the Council, President Traian Basescu said it was the first time that a term for making a decision in the Schengen accession matter had been set – September 2012, but accused the Netherlands of making ‘an unbounded abuse’. ‘A deadline has been set for the first time – the Justice and Home Affairs Council in September,’ Basescu said. The president mentioned that he had discussed it on the margin of the European Council as there was a risk that the decision might have been postponed indefinitely.Asked about the statements by European Council President Herman Von Rompuy, on the presence of border policemen from other member states at Romanian and Bulgarian border crossing points, the president said neither country had made such an offer. ‘We have not made such an offer and neither has Bulgaria. We want one thing: the Accession Treaty to be observed,’ said the president, explaining that the option had been mentioned by Von Rompuy as a possible solution to The Netherlands’s objections to Romania and Bulgaria’s Schengen accession.According to the head of state, the only issue raised by The Netherlands was in connection with the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (MCV) reports. Basescu criticised The Netherlands once more, accusing it of ‘making an unbounded abuse against another member state,’ noting that MCV was not among the Schengen accession requirements. Basescu explained that the setting of the deadline for making a decision in September presupposes that The Netherlands does not say in the summer that it wants to wait for a new MCV report.
‘It is still to be determined if the Dutch Government keeps its word,’ the president added. Asked if Romania and Bulgaria were asking for a blank cheque from The Netherlands, Basescu answered: ‘It can say what it wants. We are not requesting a blank cheque. For the time being, The Netherlands is making an unbounded abuse against a member state.’ In addition, the president resumed his statements made after the previous Council, suggesting that the port known to be the main gateway for drugs into Europe is Rotterdam. ‘The port known to be the main drug gateway into Europe is Rotterdam, not Constanta, not Tulcea,’ Basescu said. The Romanian president also insisted that he had asked the EP president to adopt an extremely severe resolution on PVV (the Party of Freedom from Netherlands – our note), which, on February 8, put up a website inviting the Dutch people to report ‘issues’ caused by the inflow of nationals of Central and Eastern Europe to The Netherlands. ‘The President of the European Parliament, was very tough on Holland also in the Council. I can tell you that, in the Council, taking advantage of President Schultz’ presence there, I warned that, on March 13, when the case of the Dutch website put up by PVV is discussed, the EP should adopt an extremely severe resolution,’ Basescu said. Bucharest politicians have deplored the postponement of our accession to Schengen. PSD President Victor Ponta wrote a letter to EP President Martin Schulz, a Socialist, thanking him for the support given to Romania’s entry to the Schengen free area. On the other hand, the party, through Titus Corlatean, said the postponement was a new failure of the whole political class. The head of the Schengen Department from the Interior Ministry, Marian Tutilescu, told RFI that the EC recommendation was not a victory, but a delay. PDL Spokesman Sever Voinescu, in turn, calls it an unfair act, another step in the direction of dividing Europe.
Serbs forgot about protocol on minorities, Romania reminded them
President Basescu also commented on the signing of the Bucharest-Belgrade protocol on minorities on Thursday, saying that, after it had been signed, Romania showed absolutely no opposition to the EU giving Serbia the status of EU candidate country. Basescu noted that probably ‘overwhelmed’ by the problems of governance and those regarding Kosovo, the ‘the Serbian friends’ had forgotten about the minorities protocol, but the Romanian authorities reminded them of it: ‘The Romanians in the Timoc Valley are no recognised as a minority. A protocol was written, 90 per cent of which had been discussed and negotiated between Romania and Serbia before the little event that happened (…)’. Asked by the Serb journalists if Romania still opposed Serbia’s candidate status, Basescu answered: ‘Serbia has already passed’. The condition attached by Romania has been criticised by various countries as well as the European mass-media. ’The Economist’ was noting in its electronic edition on Friday that the Romanian position on Serbia’s EU candidacy was considered by a European diplomatic source as ‘an embarrassing representation’ worthy of the 19th century nationalism.
Fiscal pact in Parliament’s court
The most important stake of the summit that ended in Brussels on Friday was, however, the signing of the EU fiscal treaty mainly introducing fiscal regulations to balance budgets and coordinate economic policies at a European level. Romania signed the treaty through President Traian Basescu who pointed out that the EC was becoming the ‘gendarme’ of compliance with the elements included in the EU fiscal governance treaty and that the 25 member states ‘willingly’ share with the Commission the control over fiscal and budget policies. Basescu also said that he had done his duty by signing the Fiscal Governance Treaty the ratification of which is now the parliament’s responsibility. He reiterated the fact that Romania’s objective had been to be party to the treaty because meeting its requirements is very easy, which will ‘certainly’ prepare Romanian economy for joining the euro zone. Regarding the incident of writing the wrong date for the signing of the treaty – second rather than third month – the president said it was not a problem because no one will context it in the EU. Laughing, he commented that the signature was ‘nice’, containing many digits ‘two’.