EU Council Mulls Bulgaria's Schengen Bid
The enlargement of the Schengen area and Bulgaria's and Romania's joining is back on the agenda of the forthcoming summit of the EU Council on Justice and Home Affairs.
The summit is held on March 7th and 8th in Brussels.
The Irish presidency of the EU explains the Council would not make a "for" or "against" decision, but would rather discuss the option of joining Schengen as several Member States oppose the two countries accession.
All of the above means the issue is not going to be resolved during the Irish presidency and will be transferred to the one of Lithuania, which will start on July 1, 2013.
One day ago Finland became the next Member State to dim Bulgaria's Schengen hopes by officially announcing it is opposing Sofia's and Bucharest's accession.
Finland's Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen, cited by the Bulgarian news agencies BTA and Dnevnik, said the two countries have been accepted way too easily in the EU.
According to the Finish TV YLE, the position of the country's government and Parliament is not linked to the Roma issue, but mostly to Bulgaria's and Romania's failure to successfully tackle corruption and organized crime.
On Tuesday, Romanian media published information that a total of seven countries oppose Bulgaria's and Romania's accession to Schengen – Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Finland, Denmark and Austria.
Romanian Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, has announced Bucharest is not going to insist on a vote on the issue at the March 7th and 8th summit.
Over the weekend in an interview for the Spiegel magazine, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich warned Germany is going to veto Bulgaria's and Romania's Schengen accession as German citizens would support the enlargement of Schengen only upon fulfillment of certain conditions.
Until now the two countries were denied Schengen membership on several occasions mainly over the opposition of the Netherlands on grounds even though they have fulfilled the technical requirements, they cannot secure their borders over lack of progress in the fight against corruption and crime.
The Netherlands says it wants to see two consecutive positive European Commission reports on them under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.
It was even reported earlier that the enlargement of the Schengen area has been removed from the agenda of the summit in Brussels.
At the beginning of the year, the Irish Presidency of the European Union distributed a program, according to which the enlargement of Schengen and Bulgaria's and Romania's membership was included in the agenda of the above summit.
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