Romania’s Schengen entry to be decided by the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on Thursday in Brussels.
Romania will find out in a few days if it is accepted into the free-movement Schengen area, years after being put on the waiting list. Created in 1995, Schengen ensures free movement for European citizens and goods across 26 European countries, namely 22 EU member states and four non-members, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Although Romania joined the European Union in 2007, its entry into Schengen was blocked in March 2011 by a number of countries such as Austria, Finland, Sweden and The Netherlands. For ten years, the countries opposing Romania's accession justified their position saying Bucharest still has unresolved problems with respect to justice and corruption. Like Romania, Bulgaria is also on the Schengen waiting list and is eagerly awaiting a decision from the Justice and Home Affairs Council, which is scheduled to meet on Thursday in Brussels. Within a few months, countries that most strongly opposed Romania's entry have changed their positions. After clear signals from Berlin and Paris, Finland, Sweden and The Netherlands, alongside the European Commission and the European Parliament, have confirmed both the fulfilment of the technical requirements and the progress made by Romania with respect to the rule of law.
A unanimous vote is, however, required, and Austria's home affairs minister Gerhard Gartner told the Austrian newspaper Kurier that his country is opposed to Romania's and Bulgaria's admission on account of their unresolved problems relating to the protection of the EU's external borders, and the rejection of asylum applicants and their distribution. Sweden, on the other hand, stood in favour of Romania's access, while the Dutch Parliament gave the green light to the entry of Romania and Croatia, while still objecting to Bulgaria's admission because of issues relating to corruption and the rule of law.
Romania's prime minister Nicolae Ciucă and its foreign minister Bogdan Aurescu on Friday's welcomed The Netherlands' positive assessment with respect to Romania's Schengen entry. "Welcoming the Dutch Government's recognition of Romania's readiness to join Schengen as a key step towards achieving this goal, made possible through dialogue and cooperation. The Netherlands is a valued partner of our country", Ciucă posed on Twitter. Bogdan Aurescu said this is the result of intense dialogue that has taken place recently and Romania's very good technical preparations. (CM)