Bulgaria's Interior Drums Up Support for Schengen Entry in Brussels
Bulgaria's interior minister will make yet another effort to convince Brussels into separating the country's Schengen accession from the European Commission's continued monitoring of its justice reform and anti-corruption combat.
Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov will pay a one-day official visit to Brussels on Wednesday and will confer with Joseph Daul, chairman of the European People's Party Group in the European Parliament, as well as MEPs from France and the Netherlands.
At the end of last month the authorities in the two countries dealt a blow to Bulgaria and Romania Schengen aspirations by tying the date for accession with the so-called Co-operation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), through which Brussels monitors the progress the two countries are making in justice and home affairs.
When the two countries joined the EU, in 2007, persistent corruption and insufficient reforms of their jutice systems determined the set-up of an unprecedented monitoring mechanism, which so far led to the freezing of some EUR 500 M in Bulgaria due to fraud associated with EU funds.
Bulgaria's government has repeatedly said it is working hard to cover the Schengen Agreement criteria and join the zone March 2011.
The Balkan country has also started working with the Schengen Information System (SIS).
Bulgaria's government has been keeping a low profile over France's Roma crackdown, apparently fearing that tension with Paris might put at risk its Schengen accession.
The country hopes to join the EU's border-free zone by the end of 2011 as scheduled and the official line is that recent expulsions of mostly Romanian and Bulgarian Roma from France is irrelevant to that process.
Bulgaria submitted its formal declaration of readiness in September 2007 and sent European authorities follow-up reports, penning in March 2011 as the target date for accession to the Schengen zone.
The estimates turned meaningless due to a delay in the award of a tender to produce biometric passports and lack of progress on the second generation of the EU's Schengen Information System, more commonly known as SISII.
The 1985 Schengen Agreement is an agreement among most Western and Central European countries which allows for the abolition of systematic border controls between the participating countries.
By the Treaty of Amsterdam, the agreement itself and all decisions having been enacted on its basis had been implemented into the law of the European Union.
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