European Commission says Romania is ready to join the Schengen area
Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia are ready to join Schengen, the European Commission (EC) said on Wednesday, November 16. It also called upon the Council to take the necessary decisions "without any further delay" to allow the three countries to fully participate in the border-free area.
"In a Communication adopted today, the Commission takes stock of the three Member States' strong record of achievements in the application of the Schengen rules," reads the EC's press release.
The Commission says an enlarged Schengen area without internal border controls will make Europe safer, more prosperous, and more attractive.
As far as Romania is concerned, the country "has high-quality and strong border management, including border surveillance and systematic border checks, and international police cooperation. Fight against irregular migration and trafficking of human beings are two priorities where Romania is active. The Schengen Information System is well established. Concerning the respect for fundamental rights, Romania has effective structures in place to guarantee access to international protection respecting the principle of non-refoulement," the EC said on Wednesday.
Bulgaria and Romania successfully completed the Schengen evaluation process in 2011, and although the Council recognised the completion of the evaluation process, it failed to take a decision on the lifting of the internal borders, the same source explained. In March 2022, the two countries issued a Joint Declaration in the Council and invited a team of experts on a voluntary basis under the coordination of the Commission to look into the application of the latest developments of the Schengen rules.
"This voluntary fact-finding mission, which took place in October 2022, confirmed that Bulgaria and Romania have not only continued implementing the new rules and tools but that they have also substantially reinforced the overall application of the Schengen architecture in all its dimensions. Moreover, these two countries proved to have a model track record of implementation of the Schengen rules," the European Commission added.
The Justice and Home Affairs Council will vote on the full participation of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia in the Schengen area on December 8.
Schengen is the largest free-travel area in the world, with currently 22 EU countries participating, plus four associated non-EU countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
The European Parliament adopted in October a resolution inviting the Council to allow Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen area. Membership would ease trade and allow Romanians to travel in the EU without having to stop for any kind of border controls.
(Photo source: Cineberg Ug/Dreamstime.com)