POLITICS

Barroso: Romania, Bulgaria will not join Schengen on January 1st 2014

Bucharest downplays the announcement of the European Commission boss, saying that the media didn’t
understand the meaning of the statement, namely that Romania meets all accession criteria and that 2014 is not all lost. President Basescu warns over a possible negative MCV report because of the Cabinet and the Parliament.

“Romania and Bulgaria will not join the Schengen space on January 1st 2014,” the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso said Monday on the private television channel LCI of France, controlled by TF1. “There is an incredible amalgam between Schengen, immigration, Lampedusa, workers detached (abroad). This is an amalgam that must be denounced, or we will have a boost of extremist movements that determine Europe to do hazardous things. Romania and Bulgaria will not accede to Schengen because there are some countries that oppose it; there is a unanimity which must be reached, although – technically – they already meet the conditions,” the EC president concluded. In an interview granted in September to the Bulgarian public radio, Barroso said that Romania and Bulgaria meet the Schengen accession criteria and must be granted a chance to accede without delay.
According to the European Commission Spokesperson Pia Ahrenkilde – Hansen, contacted by Agerpres, President Barroso in ‘Le Club LCI’ TV show said that, although the two countries met the technical criteria for the accession to Schengen, because of many countries opposing, Romania and Bulgaria would not access the free movement area by the end of the transition period.
When asked if Jose Manuel Barroso did not rush into making such an announcement ahead of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) meeting in the early December, (which still has on the provisional agenda the topic of Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area), Pia Ahrenkilde – Hansen pointed out that the EC President only mentioned the current situation of this file.
She reiterated the fact that the European Commission pointed out on several occasions that Romania and Bulgaria fulfilled the technical criteria for accessing the free movement area, inviting the Council to make a decision in this respect.

In his turn, President Traian Basescu said yesterday, before leaving for Paris, that the decision depends on the MCV report, and there are major problems pertaining to political decision made in Bucharest, which do not make him very optimistic. He added that a future serious discussion can be made only if the MCV report is positive. “Mr. Barroso did not say that Romania will not join Schengen in 2014, only that it will not join Schengen on January 1st 2014,” Traian Basescu mentioned, adding that there are two impediments to an accession on January 1st. “First, we need a good MCV report and neither the parliament, nor the government excel at observing the criteria demanded by the rule of law,” the president stated. “The government maintains people with criminal files in court as ministers, while the Parliament rejected three or four times the prosecution of members of the Parliament,” he added. “Plus, there is also a member of the Parliament with a definitive decision of ICCJ that he was incompatible and the Parliament decided that he can stay in the Parliament,” Basescu said. He went on: “We have major political issues that make me not very optimistic and which, unfortunately, do not depend on me, DNA, DIICOT, the general prosecutor’s office, ICCJ or the fight against corruption, as they pertain to political will. These people cannot endlessly cheat Romanians that they are ill-fated or they stumble against Basescu. Their deeds prevent Romania’s process of accession to Schengen.” Basescu also mentioned that this is an impediment, in what Bucharest does not do, or does against the habits and customs of the European Union and “sometimes even against the law.” The president added that the second issue is that one can never accede to Schengen on January 1st, only the day when the summer or winter time is changed, respectively in April or October.
In his speech delivered Monday evening on B1 TV, Basescu criticised the government for not dismissing Deputy PM Liviu Dragnea, whose file was sent to Court. He added that the Parliament has a problemme with the MCV through the refusal to allow the prosecution of former ministers Dobre, Borbely and Vosganian. According to the president, the approach chosen by the new Majority is “incorrect” and they must quickly correct these things if they want to do something for Romania.
The Speaker of the Senate, PNL leader Crin Antonescu said Tuesday that he considers the statement of the EC president as an injustice made to Romania and he would have expected the Barroso to say what he intends to do about it. He would have preferred that the European official does more than tell the fact that Romania will not be accepted to Schengen.
Following the statement of the EC president, PDL accused the Ponta government of being “directly responsible for missing the national objective of Romania’s accession to Schengen.” “USL does not know how to coexist with an independent justice, with rules on incompatibilities, with democracy and the rule of law, something that cannot be conceived in the EU. It is normal that Schengen states do not trust a country led by a 70 pc majority that governs without respect for the rule of law. The EU sees, same as we do, that USL has in its DNA a gene of rejecting the idea of independent justice and of democratic rules,” said PDL senator Alin Tise, minister of Interior in the Alternate Government of PDL. Tise added that missing the accession to Schengen directly affects millions of Romanians.
Meanwhile, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs “notes with regret the inaccurate way the media in Romania reflected the statements made in the evening of 11 November by the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso, on a private TV station of France”. “President Barroso actually reiterated the basic position of the European Commission on the fulfillment by Romania (and Bulgaria) of the requirements for joining the Schengen Area, in their entirety. At the same time he deplored the amalgamation between Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area and such themes as immigration, the Lampedusa tragedy, or worker mobility. He invited attention, on the occasion, to the fact that such themes are not interconnected and may fuel the rise of extremist and xenophobic movements, a position Romania, too, has constantly upheld”, MAE emphasized. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs “expresses confidence that the European Commission will further maintain a correct and fair position on the issue of Romania’s accession to the Schengen Area” and “ reiterates the fact that Romania has entirely fulfilled the conditions for joining the Schengen Area”.

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