A mixed team of experts from the European Commission and member states, including the Netherlands, will visit Romania to clarify any issues regarding the country’s implementation of the Schengen acquis, the government said on Wednesday.
The European Commission has again asked the Council to welcome Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania into the Schengen area, which allows travel without border controls, at a vote in December.
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johannsson said that following recent fact-finding missions by EU agencies, it was clear that “these three nations deserve to feel fully European.”
Bulgaria and Romania Invited a team of experts last month to assess their legal frameworks and governance relating to borders, sharing of security information and efficient police cooperation in an attempt to assuage any remaining concerns from member states.
Both countries have “strongly proven” that they have met EU requirements on border control, said Johannsson, who added that there was an ongoing EU mission assessing the visa-issuing process and data protection in the two countries.
The visit to Romania will take place due to the openness shown by the Romanian authorities to clarify any additional issues of interest related to the application of the Schengen acquis by Romania; the government told Agerpres.
Following the statements of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Dutch parliament’s motion that stated that additional elements are expected before a final decision from the Netherlands on Romania’s accession to the Schengen area, Romania expressed “its full readiness” to receive Dutch experts.
In October, the Dutch parliament passed a resolution urging Rutte to block approval, citing concerns about organised crime and corruption.
The Czech presidency of the Council plans to hold a vote of the home affairs ministers on the Schengen area accession of both Bulgaria and Romania in early December.
The two countries met the criteria for joining the border control-free zone as early as 2011. Still, their accession, which requires unanimous approval by member states, was blocked by several Western countries, citing corruption and organised crime issues.
However, in recent months, the opposition seems to have diminished, with only Dutch politicians expressing their scepticism over their readiness to join the Schengen area.
(Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)