France: Corruption in Bulgaria, Romania Weakens Borders
France has cited corruption at the borders as the main argument for delaying Bulgaria and Romania's entry into the EU passport-free Schengen area, though acknowledging the two countries have met all technical requirements.
"Our concern is that even if they have reached technical standards on managing borders, corruption in those countries could weaken those borders," Claude Gu?ant, French Interior Minister said.
The minister has however hinted that a phased-in entry may be an acceptable compromise, involving "a first stage in autumn with the opening of air borders in the presence of police from other states."
"A second stage could take place later, in 2012, with the opening of land borders, there again with the help of border guards from other EU countries."
Bulgaria and Romania will not join the European Union's passport-free Schengen area until mid-2012 at the earliest, the bloc's interior ministers decided on Thursday.
European Union interior ministers met in Luxembourg just a day after the non-binding vote of the European Parliament, which allowed Bulgarians and Romanians to travel across Europe without a passport.
EU interior ministers acknowledged that Bulgaria and Romania's border controls have risen up to meet Schengen standards, but said the decision of their governments on when to accept new members into the zone will be based on wider criteria, including judicial reform and the fight against corruption.
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