Bulgaria Fails Last Schengen Test, Drags Romania Down - Report
Bulgaria has failed the final test of technical readiness for accession to the Schengen Area, according to a report of the Romanian media Ziare.com.
The report cites sources from the Romanian Interior Ministry as well as interviews for German media with Hans Gerhard Doering, an advisor of Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, as saying that, unlike Romania, during the most recent inspection, Bulgaria has registered problems with the technical requirements for Schengen accession.
At the beginning of December, experts from the European Commission were on a mission in Sofia to assess Bulgaria's Schengen readiness, stating that Bulgaria and Romania's entry to the Schengen Agreement depends on the assessment of technical criteria. This was the seventh consecutive visit of Schengen experts in Bulgaria.
On December 20, EP Vice President Rayner Wieland said in Sofia the decision on Bulgaria and Romania potential Schengen entry is to be made on March 27 2011.
According to the Ziare.com article, however, Bulgaria's technical inspection showed problems at the Kapitan Andreevo border crossing on the border with Turkey, which is an external EU border.
The report points out that Bulgaria's alleged failure to meet all technical requirements for Schengen entry is also dragging Romania down.
The problems at the Kapitan Andreevo crossing on the Bulgarian-Turkish border are reported to be not just technical but also staff-related.
The results from the final EC inspection of Bulgaria's Schengen readiness are expected to be made public around January 20, 2011, before a decision is made in March 2011.
Bulgaria and Romania originally hoped to join the borderless Schengen zone in March 2011 but in the last weeks of 2010 EU countries such as France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden made clear their opposition and concerns that the two countries are not ready to safeguard properly the external EU/Schengen Area borders.
According to the Bulgarian government, Bulgaria will have met fully all technical criteria for Schengen Entry by March 2011. Analysts have commented for Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) that Bulgaria and Romania are more likely to be allowed in the Schengen Area towards the end of 2011, rather than in March.
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