The governments of the EU member states will vote in December on the possibility of granting Romania and Bulgaria accession to the Schengen area after more than ten years of waiting.
In 2011, the question of membership was put to a vote by ministers from the bloc’s member states, but membership was blocked by the Dutch and Finnish governments, where entry into the Schengen area without a passport required unanimity.
“The Czech Presidency is committed to making progress to enable Bulgaria and Romania to become fully part of the Schengen area”said the Czech minister for European affairs, Mikuláš Bek, during a debate on the subject in the European Parliament on Wednesday 5 October.
“In this regard, we are working with Member States to pave the way for a substantive discussion on the lifting of internal border controls with Bulgaria and Romania. As part of our efforts to achieve the necessary unanimity in the Council, the Presidency has facilitated expert visits to Bulgaria and Romania next week, as directed by the Commission.”said the minister.
A clear majority of MEPs are in favor of lifting border controls for the two countries. Parliament will vote on a resolution on this issue during the plenary session, which will take place from 17 to 20 October.
Only the group Identity and Democracy (ID) remains opposed to such a decision. Guido Reil, from the German party Alternative to Germany (AfD), defines Romania as a real ” far to the westin the heart of Europe and points to high levels of corruption and organized crime in both countries.
Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People’s Party (EPP), believes so. “Here we have two EU member states that meet all the conditions to join this space. They are ready for Schengen, but they have been waiting for the green light from the Council since 2011. 11 years, no progress. This is simply unacceptable” .
“There is no first and second category, there are no objective reasons to deny Bulgaria and Romania this [adhésion]. They have taken all the necessary steps and allow me to reassure our friends in Sofia and Bucharest, you have our support, your place is in Schengen. he added.
Likewise, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, Iratxe Garcia Perez, described “blockage in the Council”Simply“discriminatory”.
“We talk a lot about solidarity, but it must apply to everyone. You cannot ask for solidarity from Bulgaria and Romania while the EU does not respect its own commitments [envers elles]. This is the best recipe for fueling feelings of dissatisfaction with Europe and support for anti-European populist messages.”she continued.
The left also supports the two countries’ inclusion in the Schengen area, but believes that it is necessary in exchange for free movement to ask that they put an end to violence against migrants and refugees at the borders.
“I firmly believe in free movement for absolutely everyone, but I find it very difficult to separate the extension of Schengen from the violence that is widespread at Europe’s borders. Ridiculous violence and abuse happening at spectacular speed against refugees trying to enter Croatia”said Clare Daly for the Left.
“With Bulgaria and Romania, it is very difficult to shake the belief that the EU requires these countries to prove that they will stop at nothing to prevent migrants from entering their territory in exchange for free movement. The EU seems to have made a habit of rewarding appalling behavior with free movement.”she said.