Hungarian Ambassador: Bulgaria Schengen Entry Depends on EC Justice Report
The results of the July report of the European Commission (EC) under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) in the area of justice and home affairs will determine whether Bulgaria and Romania can join Schengen by end-2011, announced Hungarian Ambassador to Bulgaria Judith Lang.
"I hope that the report will provide favorable conclusions about Sofia and Bucharest. To sum up, the door to Schengen membership remains open to Bulgarians and Romanians and I hope that we will not have to wait until 2012 for this to happen", Lang said in an interview for Deutsche Welle.
The Hungarian Ambassador to Bulgaria reminded that the EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers Council had already confirmed the technical preparedness of the two countries for joining the visa-free travel zone, which she termed "a fantastic result not only for Bulgaria and Romania but for the six-month Hungarian EU Presidency.
"This is why I am very optimistic that the Council will reconsider the issue of Bulgaria and Romania's Schengen accession in September", Lang added.
Although the Working Group on Schengen Matters (Sch-Eval) at the Council of EU has unanimously approved the report on Bulgaria's technical preparedness, countries like France, Germany and the Netherlands have questioned the country's ability to guard EU's external borders.
The three countries have demanded evidence of lasting progress in the fight against organized crime and corruption before they allow Bulgaria to join Schengen.
In the meantime, a Europol expert warned that Bulgaria and Romania's entry into the passport-free travel area may boost illegal immigration through the Greek-Turkish border.
"The potential Bulgarian and Romanian Schengen entry...may increase the immigration pressure upon the Greek-Turkish border and the Bulgarian Black Sea border may become an immigration target," said Jean Dominique Nollet, head of Europol's "Analysis and Information" Department, during a conference in Sofia on June 14.
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