For many years now Romania has met Schengen accession criteria, and plans on fulfilling this strategic objective in 2019.
Originally slated for March 2011, Romania’s accession to the travel-free area, along with Bulgaria, has been repeatedly postponed, with the Netherlands expressing its opposition. The reasons invoked have to do with Romania failing to fulfill some of the objectives it committed itself to, under the European Commission’s Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), which has been monitoring, ever since 2007, the country’s progress in fighting corruption, reforming its judiciary and combating organized crime, although no official link was ever made between Romania’s Schengen Accession and CVM.
Joining the passport-free zone remains a top priority for Bucharest. Minister for European Affairs Victor Negrescu said Romania could call for a vote on this matter in the Justice and Home Affairs Council in the second half of the year or during the country’s mandate at the helm of the EU Council.
Victor Negrescu: “Romania will subject its Schengen accession to a vote only when it is certain the vote will go through. We don’t want to be again in a situation when we call for a vote, only to withdraw our request. We either call the vote and are accepted or seek justice by resorting to the instruments available to countries that are not respected”.
Romania’s Schengen Accession is stipulated in its EU Accession Treaty, and the country has fulfilled all accession criteria, Victor Negrescu argues. “I think we should look reality in the face and admit that Romania has fulfilled all Schengen accession criteria. We are currently drafting a coherent strategy in this respect, with concrete results. We believe Romania has a political and a legal right to join Schengen. We are willing to talk to partner states, although there are currently no arguments to block our accession”.
Romania’s Schengen accession also ranked high on the agenda for talks between Romania’s President, Klaus Iohannis, and European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker. The high-ranking official has warned that, if the latest modifications brought to the justice laws take effect in the form voted by Parliament, talks on Romania’s Schengen Accession and lifting the CVM will take a different course. Moreover, President Juncker pointed out that Romania has made remarkable progress in terms of the rule of law, and the Commission is unwilling to accept any backtracking on this issue.