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Schengen: Council declares Bulgaria and Romania prepared

10. June 2011. | 07:21

Source: Emg.rs

EU member states’ Home Affairs Ministers will return to the issue of the Schengen accession of Bulgaria and Romania by the end of September. This was the unanimous decision made during the meeting of the Home Affairs Council on 9 June 2011 in Luxembourg.

EU member states’ Home Affairs Ministers will return to the issue of the Schengen accession of Bulgaria and Romania by the end of September. This was the unanimous decision made during the meeting of the Home Affairs Council on 9 June 2011 in Luxembourg.

“We are hopeful that during the Polish Presidency’s term there will be a chance for progress on this matter”, said Minister of Home Affairs Sándor Pintér acting as chair of the meeting, in a press conference held during the meeting. Responding to a journalist’s question, he said that even the Netherlands, the last remaining opponent of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, gave up its reservations. “The Netherlands has also accepted the Council’s conclusion, so practically there is no specific opponent of the matter at this moment”, Mr Pintér said.

Home Affairs Ministers concluded that Bulgaria and Romania are appropriately prepared for the application of the Schengen acquis, which marks the end of the evaluation stage of the two countries in terms of preparedness.

The document also provides that the Council will return to the accession (border opening) as soon as possible, but in September 2011 at the latest.

Now that Bulgaria and Romania have been found technical prepared, a decision will be made on eliminating control at the internal borders of the two countries. In response to a question, Mr Pintér indicated that the elimination of border control might take place in several steps, and in the first step it may only affect air border crossing points. “Until September 2011, during the Polish Presidency, we will have to review this matter once again”, the Hungarian Home Affairs Minister said, pointing out that various proposals have been made. One is aimed at the gradual accession of Bulgaria and Romania. Under this proposal, the Schengen opening of airports would take place before the end of 2011, land and water crossings would come later, Pintér explained.

The Hungarian EU Presidency has considered it a special priority to ensure the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the border-free Schengen area. Originally, this had been scheduled for March, but four member states (France, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland) reported reservations before the start of the Hungarian Presidency, in November 2010. In this situation the Hungarian Presidency aimed to reach a political compromise. It has made efforts to set at least the date by which the political decision on the final opening of borders would be made.

The definition “by the end of September” means the first official Council meeting of the upcoming Polish Presidency.

Poland also supports the enlargement of the Schengen zone, and considers opposition to the Bulgarian and Romanian accession to be populism. Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, Minister of State for EU Affairs of the Foreign Ministry of Poland pointed out in Budapest on 2 June 2011 that “Romania and Bulgaria are technically prepared” for their Schengen membership. The Polish Secretary of State regarded reservations over Romania’s and Bulgaria’s membership as populism, which he thinks mainly emerges in some North European countries. “There is no reason why Romania or Bulgaria should pay for the erroneous asylum policy of North European countries,” he said.

According to Home Affairs Minister Sándor Pintér, who gave an interview before the JHA Council to the Presidency’s website, eu2011.hu, Hungary had tried to act as a mediator in a series of negotiations. “We have also conducted several bi- and multilateral negotiations with the opposing parties. We have found comforting solutions for every raised concern. It has also been a great help that the Presidency has handled this problem calmly and with moderation.”, the minister said.


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