European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson announced in Brussels on Thursday that Romania and Bulgaria have not yet been admitted to the Schengen Area.
The Commissioner for Home Affairs congratulated Croatia and the Croatian citizens on their accession and said that Bulgaria and Romania also deserve to join the Schengen area, but have failed to obtain the unanimous support needed to join the area of free movement of people and goods.
“I want to address the Romanian and Bulgarian citizens as well. You deserve to be fully part of Schengen. You deserve to have access to the free movement area. You had strong support from almost all member states, from the Czech Presidency, from the Commission”, Johansson said at a joint press briefing with Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan.
“I would be lying to you if I did not say that I am also disappointed and I think I share this disappointment with the citizens of Romania and Bulgaria. It is the role of the Commission to be optimistic and to make the next steps. We will continue to do so and I am convinced that we will achieve the accession of Romania and Bulgaria during this mandate and that will be my priority”, the European Commissioner for Home Affairs assured.
Asked by Romanian journalists if the issue of Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen could eventually reach the agenda of the European Council next week, she said she would be surprised if this happened, but added that she supports any action for the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen.
“This is for the first time since 2011 we have the opportunity to have a new impulse regarding Romania and Bulgaria and I expect that we will have a clear path for both countries into Schengen”, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said on Thursday, upon arrival at the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council.
“I expect it to be a very dynamic Council with a lot of commitment from the member states and of course it will be interesting how we take this forward. I expect Croatia to have full support and I also hope that we can manage the situation of Romania and Bulgaria”, said the high-ranking EU official, according to Agerpres.
She said that she is looking forward to the discussions in the JHA Council regarding the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen, voicing her hope that despite the intense debates, a decision will be made.
Asked if she really expects a positive decision on the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, given that all the signs ahead the JHA Council pointed to the contrary, she said the dynamic is very good and it remains to be seen.
As regards the possibility of an offer for Austria that would prompt this state to support the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, she said that measures were taken to respond to Vienna’s concerns.
“Austria is under pressure when it comes to irregular arrivals. That’s one reason why three days ago I presented a new action plan to counter the irregular arrival of migrants via the Western Balkan route. Yesterday [Wednesday – editor’s note], my team, together with officials from Austria, was in Belgrade to step up the measures. We already have more than 500 Frontex personnel on the ground, but we are ready to deploy more. We have more steps that are important not only for Schengen enlargement, but also for the proper management of migration in the EU”, she also stated.
Asked by the Romanian press if she sees a solution in decoupling Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen, Ylva Johansson did not clearly reject this option.
Czech Interior Minister Rakusan: From my point of view, both Romania and Bulgaria are ready to be Schengen members
Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakusan told the Justice and Home Affairs Council on Thursday that he is grateful to the future Swedish Presidency of the EU Council for being ready to continue the work of his country and to maintain as a priority the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area.
After congratulating Croatia for being invited to join Schengen, Vit Rakusan added, in a joint briefing with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson:
“But, from my point of view, both Romania and Bulgaria are ready to be Schengen members and I am very grateful to these two countries for all the work they have done in recent months. I am convinced that their time will come soon,” said Rakusan.
USR’s Drula: JHA Council decision, deeply unfair
The decision of the JHA Council is deeply unfair, because Romanians deserve to enter Schengen area, says the chairman of the Save Romania Union (USR), Catalin Drula.
“Romanians deserve to enter Schengen. They have earned this right with hard work and seriousness. The position of the Austrian government will remain in history as an act of discrimination. Inexplicable is also the position of the EPP, the European party which Klaus Iohannis and the PNL (National Liberal Party, ed. n.) belong to. Yesterday, the EPP chief stood shoulder to shoulder with the Austrian chancellor while he explained how he was denying us a legitimate right, for reasons that have nothing to do with Romania,” the USR leader said.
According to him, today must also be a “moment of reflection for the old political class”, on the way Romania is seen and treated outside the borders.
He calls for the resignation of Internal Affairs minister Lucian Bode.
“For the injustice suffered today by the Romanians, there are also national responsibilities to be assumed. Minister Bode assured Romanians of their support for Schengen accession. Lucian Bode must resign for this failure. As for Klaus Iohannis, the head of Romania’s foreign policy, this infamous day definitively sealed his empty mandates as president,” the USR leader said.
Compiled from Agerpres