*Bulgaria, Romania Not Ready for Schengen

Views on BG | March 8, 2013, Friday // 09:15| Views: | Comments: 5
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Bulgaria: *Bulgaria, Romania Not Ready for Schengen Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The Economist


"IF Romania and Bulgaria insist on a vote, the attempt will fail because of a German veto," said Hans-Peter Friedrich, the German minister of the interior in an interview with the news website of Der Spiegel, a German weekly. Both countries must take further steps to prevent migrants abusing the system, Mr Friedrich added.

Romania and Bulgaria were hoping to find out of the date of their admission to the passport-free Schengen zone today at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. But Germany (and Finland) say both countries are not ready. According to Mr Friedrich, who is a member of the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union allied to Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, said that they have to do much more to fight corruption. Mr Friedrich also argued in favour of penalties for those who come to Germany only to get social-welfare benefits.

Thanks to Mr Friedrich's warning, Victor Ponta (pictured above), Romania's prime minister, decided not to insist on a vote on the issue at the summit. Traian B?sescu, the president, agreed with the government's position, but insisted that the country should ask for a new deadline either in September or December this year. "Romania's major aim is to get into the Schengen zone and no sacrifice should be big enough to make this happen, not even sacrificing the country's corrupted people", he said. Mr B?sescu added at least seven countries oppose his country's membership in the Schengen zone mainly because of the report by the EU's Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification (CVM on the (lack of) progress on judicial reform and the fight against corruption in Romania.

In the latest CVM report published in January this year, the European Commission criticised Romania for failing to meet demands on protecting democracy and the rule of law and urged the government to accelerate its reforms. The report underlines that the justice system had to face political pressure and anti-corruption prosecutors were undermined. The Commissioned expressed concerns regarding "the lack of respect for the independence of the judiciary and the instability faced by judicial institutions."

It is not the first time Romania is denied access to the Schengen area. Bucharest has been trying to acquire membership for the last three years. In 2012, the Netherlands oppose Romania's admission, arguing that the previous CVM report, published last July, didn't show enough progress. This report was released in the middle of a political crisis that damaged Romania's credibility. In 2010, France was the first country to point out that Romania and Bulgaria are not ready yet to join the Schengen zone. Pierre Lellouche, who back then was France's state secretary for European affairs, expressed his concern about the Romanian-Moldovan border "because of the distribution of Romanian passports outside their border".

For Romanians the Schengen membership (if ever they get it) will not bring a major change. They have been able to travel around Europe only with their ID or passport since 2007 when their country became an EU member.

Even so, another Schengen membership postponement is a setback for Romania. As long as the Romanian parliament continues to block the prosecution for corruption charges of high-profile politicians and Romanians rely on bribes to solve their daily problems, the country's integration into the EU will not be completed.

*The title has been changed by Novinite.com.

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Tags: Paivi Rasanen, Germany, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, Netherlands, Schengen, Schengen Agreeement, schengen bulgaria, crime, corruption, council on justice and home affairs, Irish Presidency, Schengen, Bulgaria, Romania, Belgium, France, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Victor Ponta
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» To the forumComments (5)
peterperfect - 9 Mar 2013 // 11:16:29

SuOcrack/Seedy, both right, but so am I. OC & corruption is not the fault of the ordinary man in the street apart from his meek acceptance of it (but maybe this is changing, time will tell) but it is an important factor in open borders. Possibley this is the main reason the UK has declined to join, because they recognise this and want to retain control of their own borders.

kuzmanov - 8 Mar 2013 // 19:39:59

It is hard corruption, very hard, that mauled entire Bulgarian society. Indeed, people do not feel Bulgaria as Bulgaria, Europe. However, many of them favor persons looking somewhat of Asian origin like Bojko Metodiev Borisov. This country should be renamed Bukgaristan-Tatarstan, Asia.

Seedy - 8 Mar 2013 // 12:01:40

PP, yes - we need to get rid of corruption and OC. But getting into Schengen is hardly a yardstick for how "clean" a country is - or how smart her politicians are....

SuOcrack - 8 Mar 2013 // 11:46:34

The facts are that both countries have met the original requirements and that other countries have vetoed their access by applying additional conditions.

No one has ever explained the relevance of the additional requirements with regard to access to Schengen.

There is and always has been far greater corruption in Greece and Italy (as well as other member states) and with their financial situation it will only get worse.

It is hypocritical of other member countries to suggest that any level of corruption should be a yardstick for entry when there are existing members to which this has not been applied.

peterperfect - 8 Mar 2013 // 10:19:36

"Romania's major aim is to get into the Schengen zone and no sacrifice should be big enough to make this happen, not even sacrificing the country's corrupted people" commented the Romanian PM as though "sacrificing" the countries corrupt was the last thing he wanted to do. Bulgaria take note, it is because of this (almost) reluctance to defeat OC & corruption that Romania and Bulgaria are still outside of Schengen, it has to be the next governments single most important, visible and measurable goal and must be seen to be so. Idle talk and passionate words are no longer believed, the corrupt must be "seen" to fall and to fall under true justice. As I have so often quoted "you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. Bulgarians have had enough and so have many of the EU member states now is the time to crush the corrupt and bring justice to the people.

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