Bulgaria, Romania Schengen Bid Not High Priority for Lithuanian EU Presidency
The accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen border-free area may not be among the priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency of the European Union, EU, which starts on July 1, according to Raimundas Karoblis, Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the EU.
Speaking at a Brussels conference on the priorities of the Lithuanian EU Presidency, Karoblis, as cited by Euractiv, said it was "very difficult" to make any promises about "the difficult dossier of Bulgaria and Romania's bid to join Schengen."
Karoblis said that "maybe it would be good" to put the Schengen accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the "Open Europe" chapter of his country's Presidency priorities. But he immediately added that Lithuania preferred to list as priorities areas where progress could realistically be made.
"For us, regarding the results, it is very difficult to promise something. It will depend also on what happens on the ground, what is the progress made in Romania and Bulgaria, and on the other hand the positions of member states that still have concerns," Lithuania's envoy to Brussels said.
Karoblis also noted that the issue of "benefit tourism" created further complications for the Schengen accession of the two countries.
Euractiv reminds that the EC has considered Bulgaria and Romania ready to join the Schengen borderless area since 2010, but their bid has been blocked by a number of older EU members on the grounds of poor border controls, corruption, lack of progress under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism and "benefit tourism" by the countries' Roma population.
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