‘It’s High Time’ Romania and Bulgaria to Join Schengen Zone, Juncker Announces
Romania and Bulgaria have finally been granted permission to join the Schengen Area paving he way for citizens to move freely throughout the bloc.
EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker made the announcement in his state of the union address on Wednesday.
He said: “It is high time to bring Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen Area.
“And incidentally Croatia too deserves full membership of the Schengen Area as soon as all of the criteria are met.
"All but two member states are duty bound to join the Euro area. These member states need the support of a euro accession instrument."
Of non-EU states, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also part of the Schengen Area.
Bulgaria and Romania were believed last April to have fulfilled the criteria to join Schengen, with the decision just needing to be rubber stamped.
Romania is due to take over the presidency of the EU council in 2019, and is thought they will be a fully fledged member by then.
The EU has monitored the two countries progress since they joined the bloc in 2007, in particular their judicial system which was seen as open to corruption.
That same year, the commission set up the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), which gives both Balkan states benchmarks to set their progress against.
A CVM update report released in January praised Romania's decade-long commitment to a "growing irreversibility" of judicial reforms, but highlighted a number of deficiencies Bucharest is yet to address.
The report concluded that the benchmarks set out had not yet been "fully and satisfactorily met".
European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva previously said it was the opinion of the Commission that both Bulgaria and Romania qualify for entry into the Schengen Area, established in 1995.
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