Dutch Say Firm No on Bulgaria's Gradual Schengen Entry

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | December 13, 2011, Tuesday // 16:36| Views: | Comments: 0
Dutch Minister: Before Schengen We Want Results from Bulgaria: Dutch Say Firm No on Bulgaria's Gradual Schengen Entry Dutch Minister for Immigration and Asylum Policy, Gerd Leers, is pictured attending a parliamentary debate in The Hague, Netherlands. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The Netherlands is firm on vetoing Bulgaria's and Romania's Schengen entry if there is a vote on the matter, according to Gerd Leers, Dutch Minister of Immigration and Asylum Affairs.

Leers, cited by the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, has spoken Tuesday, before the last for 2011 meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA).

According to the Dutch Minister, it is futile to discuss the issue before the release of the next report of the European Commission on Bulgaria and Romania on justice and internal affairs.

The Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) is composed of the EU's Ministers of Justice, Internal Affairs or Asylum and Migration. Despite the statement, the issue of the Schengen accession of the two newest EU Member States remained included in the agenda of the meeting, which is held in Brussels.

It was announced Sunday that JHA has proposed that Bulgaria and Romania join the Schengen zone with their maritime and aerial borders on March 25, 2012, while the land borders must be lifted no later then July 31, 2012. The Dutch, however, said they will veto this proposal as well.

"Our position is firm, we have solid grounds stemming from the rule of law, and the fight against corruption and organized crime. We want to see convincing facts, including in the EC report. I am not an enemy of Bulgaria and Romania; I am friend of Europe. I want people to be 100% assured crime and corruption would not enter out internal market," Leers declared.

He pointed out that other European governments are also alarmed about the safety of their citizens; have their own doubts, and also wish to notice improvement, but accept a gradual joining, which the Dutch do not see as a solution.

Regarding the possibility that Bulgaria and Romania could file a claim with the EU Court, Leers commented that "the two governments would achieve a much better result in less time if they simply improve the situation."

The Netherlands is the only country still opposing and blocking Bulgaria's joining of Schengen, after Finland retracted its obstruction last month.

The idea for the gradual joining was launched by the Polish EU Presidency in an attempt to resolve the problem.

Last Friday, the leaders of the 27 EU Member States, in their last for 2011 summit in Brussels, postponed once again Bulgaria's and Romania's Schengen accession.

The Dutch government is citing unsatisfactory results in the fight against corruption and organized crime as grounds for their opposition.

Bulgaria and Romania were initially planned to join the Schengen Area in the spring of 2011, but their entry was opposed by France and Germany, which also voiced objections relating not to technical criteria, but rather to corruption and organized crime.

In September, Finland and the Netherlands joined the camp of the opponents, vetoing the setting of an accession date for the two countries, but Finland later lifted their block on the two countries joining of Schengen.

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Tags: JHA, aerial, maritime, land, borders, draft declaration, summit, EU, European Council, euro zone, Eurozone, euro, organized crime, corruption, Verification and Cooperation Mechanism, Schengen Accession, Schengen, Bulgaria, Romania, EU, Finland, Netherlands, Gerd Leers, Immigration and Asylum Affairs, Dutch Minister
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