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May 18, 2021

German and French ambassadors: Romania needs progress in the fight against corruption before joining Schengen

The ambassadors of Germany, Andreas von Mettenheim (photo right) and France, Philippe Gustin (photo left) said that, aside from upgrading the equipment installed at border checkpoints, Romania also must make progress in the reform of the judiciary and the fight against corruption, in order to join to the Schengen area.“Germany and France have a common position. It is important how the European Commission, which is in charge with this problem, will evaluate the progress achieved in the reform of the judiciary and the fight against corruption. It is important for Romania to demonstrate an image of unity abroad, that all political forces have a profound interest in the judiciary reform and the progress with this regard and, if all these will take place, I am convinced that the full enforcement of the provisions of the Schengen Treaty will occur according to that two-phase model proposed by both our countries, beginning with the airports and ports, in a first phase, and the land borders in a second phase,” the German ambassador said an interview for Digi 24, quoted by Mediafax.The two diplomats mentioned that they understand the arguments of the Romanian side on the interest of separating the Schengen and subjects MCV, but the fears of public opinions in the countries of Northern Europe are a reality one must take into consideration.“I understand very well the Romanian side, the fact that it wants this separation of the mechanism from the enforcement of the Schengen treaty, and I would do the same think if I were Romanian, but I believe that the public of Northern Europe is mainly interested that this external border of the EU, which will be in Romania, must be safe with every respect, it must be impermeable through controls and I believe this fears, which we would want to get rid of, if we are given this opportunity, still exist,” von Mettenheim explained.In his turn, the French ambassador said during the same interview that meeting the technical conditions, even if the modernisation of airports and border checkpoints is conducted with the Franco-German group EADS, is not enough if the problem of corruption is not solved, given the location of Romania and Bulgaria in the vicinity of immigration basins that concern the countries of the EU.“I will say it very directly: you may have the best equipment in the world, but if a banknote subtly placed in the passport allows crossing the border without problems, then the problem is not solved at all. The fight against corruption and bureaucracy must really be efficient in Romania and Bulgaria. Because you are important countries from the geographic point of view related to emigration, you are on the edge of Europe and you are the gate to countries that might represent a matter of concern for the Europe of tomorrow, in terms of emigration,” Philippe Gustin said.The French ambassador admitted that, although the “C” of the MCV initially meant Cooperation, now it is more about Control.“We know that Romania does not agree with the connection between MCV and Schengen, but one cannot prevent public opinions and European decision makers make this connection. However, I think there is misunderstanding, perhaps even hypocrisy, and here Romanian authorities have the right to signal: the <<C>> of the MCV means cooperation, but we turned cooperation into a mechanism of control. And I believe that in the months to come we – the French and Germans – will work so we achieve a logic of bilateral cooperation between these countries and Romania, and at multilateral scale in the EU, so we succeed in making these MCV reports positive. When they will be positive, all the obstacles that block the accession to the Schengen space will be removed,” the French ambassador concluded.

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