Swedish PM: We Support the Membership of Bulgaria and Romania in Schengen
"We support the membership of Bulgaria and Romania in Schengen, because the Balkan countries play a very important role for us," Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told the plenary hall of the European Parliament. However, he did not directly answer questions from MEPs from both sides about whether this issue would be a priority for the Swedish presidency.
Two topics do not find a place in the Swedish presidency - the future of Schengen and the integration of the Western Balkans, MEP from "Renew Europe" Ilhan Kyuchuk emphasized in his speech:
"Mr. Prime Minister, two topics do not find a place in the Swedish presidency. One topic is the future of Schengen - Bulgaria and Romania must finally be part of the Schengen area. Why is this not part of the agenda of the Swedish presidency? How can win the hearts and minds of European citizens? How in 2024 can the European project be the one that is for democracy, the rule of law, high democratic standards and progress in the future? How to make all this happen? It is not possible if Bulgaria and Romania do not enter Schengen."
And more: "The theme of the integration of the Western Balkans is extremely important. Will the Swedish presidency make it so that I can be a good continuation of the policies of the previous, the Czech and all those presidencies that put the theme of the Western Balkans at the center of their politics", asked Kyuchuk.
The Romanian from the same group, Dragos Tudorache, emphasized that Austria and the Netherlands, which vetoed the two countries' accession to Schengen, simply did not want to find a solution to the issue:
"It's just that some countries said no, they didn't accept evidence, facts or arguments, they ignored all the efforts of the Presidency, the Commission and the other Member States who were trying to find a solution. In fact, they didn't want a solution. And this reluctance compromised the Presidency and is eroding the unity of the Council by causing citizens to lose confidence in the way Europe serves them. You must now work as a Presidency to turn this around and the sooner the better."
His compatriot Siegfried Muresan from the European People's Party also called for this issue to become a priority of the Swedish presidency:
"Mr. Prime Minister, let's keep this issue at the top of the agenda to make sure we fulfill this commitment. Just as Sweden and Finland joining NATO will make us a safer place, so will the admission of Bulgaria and Romania in Schengen will give us more security".
Sweden's prime minister said a package of legislation was envisaged to take responsibility for the two countries joining the free movement area, without specifying what it would contain.
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