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January 28, 2022

Schengen accession might be postponed to autumn of 2013

Romania’s entry to the Schengen area is about to be postponed again, indefinitely. After a decision had been deferred to September 2012 and then to March 2013, the European Commission has already worked out the instruments so that the accession cannot happen any sooner than the autumn of next year, diplomatic sources have told gandul.info.The report that could raise new barriers in the way of Romania and Bulgaria, apart from the justice Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) already invoked by the Netherlands and Germany will be on the table of the Justice and Home Affairs (JAI) Council in Brussels on Thursday. It is the Schengen governance report prepared by the European Commission (EC), which states that EC experts will continue to monitor Romania and Bulgaria’s borders as additional measures agreed on during the European Council in March, without setting specific time frame though. Romania and Bulgaria claim all these technical conditions have been already met. But, if the JAI Council adopts them in this form, the EC notes would give the member states a new pretext to block Romania’s entry to Schengen also in March 2013 and beyond, regardless of the supplementary justice report. These days, Romanian officials are conducting intensive negotiations trying to remove or change this note in the Schengen governance report, gandul.info says. However, Marian Tutilescu, Secretary of State and head of the Schengen Department in the Interior Ministry, explained to the quoted source that a further postponement was out of the question and that Romania and Bulgaria were going to append a minute to the conclusions of the JAI Council, through which additional border monitoring would be stopped. The additional monitoring as introduced in March 2012, on the request of the European Council. The Netherlands expressly asked to participate with experts and rapporteurs in the evaluations taking place at the Romanian and Bulgarian borders. Since March, there have been over 10 Frontex – European agency in charge of EU border monitoring – monitoring missions. All reports have been positive with regard to Romania, gandul.info quotes Marian Tutilescu as having said. He nonetheless claims that there is no risk of a further postponement of a decision on Romania’s entry to Schengen over this latest provision on continuing additional border monitoring. According to the him, the missions are not subject to a specific time scale and must end when the decision is made on Romania’s accession to Schengen. The secretary of state reckons the decision will be made for the entry to Schengen with the air and maritime borders in the first ten days of March 2013. According to him, if a positive decision is made on the accession, the JAI Council in March 2013 for the air and maritime borders, the actual entry to the Schengen area will happen on the last Sunday of March. ‘If this decision is made by the March JAI Council, naturally in the variant of that two-step compromise, the maritime and air borders will be scrapped on the last Sunday in March’, Tutilescu said at the inauguration of a new SELEC Centre conference room yesterday. Asked about the time line for the accession with the land borders, Tutilescu said it would happen at the end of 2013. ‘It’s difficult to set a deadline, of course, but we hope it happens at the end of 2013, but we also depend on the adoption of a suite of measures for strengthening governance in the Schengen area. The package of measures is currently with the European Parliament, in the procedure of dialogue with the Council and Commission. A more realistic scenario will be known sometime in March’, said the MAI secretary of state. He pointed out that, in early 2013, after the publication of the CVM report by the European Commission, the Government would start its dialogue with the Dutch and German Governments on the Schengen matter. Tutilescu noted that the European Council on December 13-14 would ‘very probably’ also address the subject of Romania and Bulgaria’s Schengen entry, given the need to have a timetable in place for next year. The Cypriot Presidency of the EU admitted in a conversation with gandul.info that the Schengen entry subject was going to be left into the hands of Ireland, country that will take over the Presidency of the Union for the first half of 2013. ‘The Cypriot Presidency has reported back to the member states the implementation of the additional measures required by the Commission in March and distributed a general presentation on their implementation showing that both countries had achieved considerable progress. However, since October, no considerable progress has been made with regard to the change of the position of those countries that oppose the entry of the two states to the Schengen area in 2012. It is known that a Council decision requires unanimity, something which cannot be achieved at this point. The subject will be taken over by the Irish Presidency’, Nikos Christodoulides told gandul.info. An important signal will also come from the CVM Supplementary Report, which strictly refers to the rule of law principles and which is due to be published by the European Commission after the election in Bucharest.

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