POLITICS

Romania’s accession to Schengen postponed again

The Justice and Home Affairs Council made no decision on Thursday on Romania and Bulgaria’s entry to Schengen following several member states’ opposition.

A decision on the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen Area will not be made any sooner than December, as the Dutch Government wants to wait for the European Commission’s report in the framework of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), Dutch Minister for Security and Justice Fred Teeven said as he was arriving for the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday. ‘No decision will be made today, all we’ll have is a briefing. There will be a new session in December. You know our position – there have to be two consecutive positive CVM reports, this is the position of the Dutch Government’, Fred Teeven told the media present. Asked what kind of progress the Netherlands wanted to see being made in anti-graft fight in the two countries in order to reconsider its position in the matter of their respective accession to the free movement area, the Dutch minister’s answer was: ‘There will have to be two consecutive positive reports. This is not the case now, we’ll see what the situation looks like in December’. Previously, the Irish Minister of Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter, had said when he was coming for the JHA Council that no final decision was going to be made in the matter of Romania and Bulgaria’s entry to Schengen during that meeting, but the subject would nonetheless be discussed. ‘We are not expecting any final decisions today, I believe everybody knows it. There will be talks based on which we will draw the final conclusions of the meeting’, Shatter said. Mediafax quotes official sources as having said on Thursday that EU justice and interior ministers meeting for the JHA Council had agreed to postpone the decision on the two countries’ entry to the Schengen Agreement to an indefinite later date. The participation in the debate on the  implementation of the Schengen acquis in full by Romania and Bulgaria was extremely broad, with no less than 15-16 member states voicing their position, something that rarely happens’ at the JAI Council, Romanian Interior Minister Radu Stroe said after the subject had been addressed in Brussels. Finland and the Netherlands invoked the CVM, yet agreed to set into place by the end of the year the manner of integration in the free movement area, in the two known steps: the first one – opening maritime and air borders and, the second one – opening land borders, the Romanian minister explained at a press conference after the meeting. Minister Stroe further added Germany on the list of member states linking Schengen to the CVM, noting that, later that afternoon, he would meet up with his German counterpart Hans-Peter Friedrich. ‘In my talks with the German minister I will make a set of proposals on technical matters, including the deployment of BKA (German Federal criminal police) officers, although, technically, there is not a lot we could still do about Schengen, for we have achieved all possible technical standard. However, we will also discuss this aspect and maybe the social issues raised by the German minister. There are three categories of matters’, Stroe said. Until Wednesday, the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen had temporarily had the status of decision, meaning that, at the JHA Council, Romania and Bulgaria could have asked the Irish EU Council Presidency to take a vote on the Schengen entry. However, the Irish Presidency of the EU says the lack of consensus on the two member states’ entry to the Schengen Agreement was a political rather than a technical matter. The expansion of the Schengen Area needs to be approved by the Council in unanimity. In the Schengen expansion decision-making procedure, the European Parliament has an advisory role. On June 8, 2011, the Parliament adopted in Strasbourg  a report prepared by Carlos Coelho (EPP) on the implementation of the Schengen acquis by Romania and Bulgaria, which stands for a favourable opinion issued by the European Legislative on the two countries’ entry to the border-free area, considering that they were fully ready for it.

France not opposing Romania’s Schengen entry Austrian Osterreich publication’s website on Thursday quoted

European sources as saying that France had joined Holland and Finland in opposing the setting of a deadline for Romania and Bulgaria’s joining Schengen. The news was subsequently denied, Paris diplomatic sources noting for RFI that, on the contrary, France was trying to find a solution to mediate between the various positions expressed at the JHA Council. Germany, the Netherlands and Finland have already explicitly informed on their opposition. Realitatea TV says only 10 member states support Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen. The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Petru Filip, on Wednesday met with the German Ambassador in Bucharest, Andreas von Mettenheim, who told him the accession to Schengen would take ‘some time’ for the citizens of his country to gain trust.The French delegation that discussed with Minister Radu Stroe in Brussels, on Thursday, reconfirmed Paris’ willingness to support the identification of a reasonable time frame for advancing the project of Romania’s Schengen entry, Romanian Home Affairs Ministry says.

Basescu to address Parliament Tuesday

President Traian Basescu  has asked Parliament leadership to make the arrangements for him to address the joint Chambers on current European policy subjects on Tuesday, March 12. The president’s speech will most likely focus on the Schengen matter.

 

 

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