European Justice Commissioner: Schengen Expansion is Mostly Political Issue
Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenships, speaks during a news conference following a session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg France, 12 December 2012. Ph
European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has suggested that the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen is more of a political decision, despite the technical criteria set by the EC.
"We must find a way together to build confidence in the judiciary because it will be at the basis of each political decision which will be made in the future," Reding observed in a Wednesday interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), stressing the importance of asserting judicial independence in Bulgaria.
Asked to comment whether she supported the introduction of additional requirements for Schengen membership by countries like the Netherlands, Reding argued that no new criteria had been adopted.
"The criteria were set and the European Commission conducted an analysis and gave the green light to the expansion of Schengen on the basis of technical requirements. However, the political sensitivity - whether you have trust in a certain country and how you treat it - this has nothing to do with the criteria but involves feeling," the EU's Justice Commissioner said.
"You just cannot leave aside the feeling which one government has about another one with additional criteria" she stated, adding that "seeking to build trust had nothing to do with extra criteria."
Reding emphasized that she was working in close cooperation with Bulgarian Justice Minister Diana Kovacheva.
Regarding the situation with the Roma in the EU, Reding noted that the fact that authorities could not afford mass expulsions of Roma was not enough and that more had to be done about their integration in their home countries.
"This is a problem of 12 million citizens and its solution requires the will of the countries they come from and the countries they go to," she added.
"Many citizens of poor countries try to make it into rich countries and these are not just Roma. This is part of the right to free movement. The situation with the Roma, however, is different, because they live in great poverty, regardless of the country they come from. If they specifically are refused the right to free movement, this will be a problem," Reding stated.
She reminded that the expulsion of Roma from France in 2010 had been made possible by the poor legislation governing the protection of individual rights.
She noted that the European Commission had interfered, as a result of which the legislation had been amended, so that each individual was treated as a citizen, not a part of an ethnic minority.
Regarding the prospects for the EU in the light of the financial crisis, she suggested that she had never entertained the idea of the EU falling apart.
Defining the EU as "one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of humanity", she said that it had already become "Europe's only way of surviving."
"While it is true that we made mistakes in the sphere of economy and finance, when you make a mistake in politics, as well as in life, you must correct it and we managed to do that. If in 2010 we ended up in the eye of a horrible storm, in 2013 we can say that although it is raining, the storm is over, and we can even see the sun shining," Reding stated.
The European Justice Commissioner argued that the main task before the EC was to create United States of Europe.
"If Europe wants to take part in ruling the world, it must be united. If we really want the next generations of Europeans to have a say in global politics and global economy, we must create the United States of Europe," she remarked.
Reding said that EU citizens would most probably be asked whether they wished to be part of the United States of Europe by 2018 or 2020.
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