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February 3, 2023
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President Iohannis, to raise Schengen topic at European Council meeting

President Klaus Iohannis participates on Thursday, in the meeting of the European Council, during which he will also raise the topic of Romania’s accession to Schengen.

“I will raise the issue of Schengen. (…) It is, firstly, very clear (…) that we, the Romanians, want to be part of the Schengen area. Integration into the Schengen area remains a national strategic objective and remains the main objective for me, as president of Romania, for the next period. (…) I have seen that there are many public advisers who create expectations related to the Council of today and tomorrow. I can tell you right from the start that I will have many discussions, I will raise the matter in the plenary session of the Council, I will explain once again why Romania must become part of the Schengen Area, but practical solutions will be found in the next JHA Council, which will be better prepared,” declared the head of state on Wednesday.

He stated that in order to achieve this goal, two problems must be solved: Austria’s attitude, which is reserved, and the Netherlands’ vote, which was mixed, for Romania being a yes, and for Bulgaria half no. According to the head of state, these issues must be resolved with diplomacy.

“Everything else, in my opinion, is out of the question. I have heard countless opinions, pieces of advice and so on in the last few days. And I want to tell you very clearly: there will be no boycott of Austria by the state or public authorities. This is not the way to handle such problems,” Iohannis said.

He also specified that Romania will not challenge Austria’s veto in the file regarding Romania’s accession to Schengen at the European Court of Justice. The head of state also stated that he does not believe that the decoupling of Romania from Bulgaria in the Schengen accession file is a good solution and that such an option would be “a solution of last resort”.

President Iohannis also mentioned that a deferred variant for Bulgaria in the Schengen matter was prepared and not a decoupling, for the JHA Council.

He showed that it is not possible to find a mention regarding Romania’s accession to Schengen in the conclusions of the European Council on Thursday, because they are adopted unanimously.

“Please don’t expect that today or tomorrow something clear will be decided in the Council regarding the accession, but I can tell you that, personally, I imagine that the accession is possible next year, in 2023,” said Iohannis.

The head of state stated that he will continue discussions with several foreign officials on the subject of Schengen.

“We will have the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU and I have already had some discussions with the new Swedish Prime Minister and I will continue. In these very days I will have a whole series of discussions to see how we can best approach these issues, how we can approach Austria, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, how can we take the next step. Because the next step has to be a success. No one, not us or others, wants to end up in a JHA Council with a negative vote once again. So something like this will not happen again, because it is not good to have such negative approach happen twice. I will have meetings with the President of the Commission, (…) I will have a discussion with the Czech Prime Minister, who has a few more days of his presidency and certainly some more technical things can be done. I will have meetings with the Swedish prime minister and we will start the discussion with the Austrians as well. We cannot and must not avoid such discussions. Ultimately, the solution must come from the whole package,” indicated the president, according to Agerpres.

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