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07 Nov 2018

MEPs Demand Bulgaria’s and Romania’s Hasty Accession to Schengen

Bulgaria and Romania will not join Schengen area this yearThe members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament have agreed that Romania and Bulgaria should join the Schengen zone as soon as possible.

The majority of MEPs voted in favor of a call to the European Union ministers to take an affirmative decision in the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the border check-free Schengen area. While 36 members of the LIBE committee voted in favor of the accession, at the same time supporting Croatia’s accession into Schengen upon the fulfillment of technical criteria, only four voted against.

According to a press release of the European Parliament, the MEPs insisted that a two-phase accession of both would negatively impact the future enlargement of the Schengen territory.  Previously, it was proposed that first Schengen should end checks at internal sea and air borders with Romania and Bulgaria, and then to stop checks at internal land borders.

The Vice-Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Rapporteur Sergei Stanishev said that the committee reaffirmed that Bulgaria and Romania should be part of the Schengen, asserting that a ‘two-step’ approach is a dangerous precedent.

“Today, the Civil Liberties Committee reaffirmed that Bulgaria and Romania should become fully-fledged Schengen members, and rejected the prospects for partial accession with air and maritime borders first, and then, eventually with land borders. This ‘two-step’ approach is a dangerous precedent that not only lacks any legally sound justification, but also entails a number of economic, social and political downsides for the EU,” Rapporteur Stanishev said.

The Draft Report voted by the MEPs among others asserts that free movement is a core principle of the EU and the ability to move within the Union without facing border checks at internal borders is one of its most successful and tangible achievements.

“It has strengthened the citizens’ sense of belonging to a common entity of shared freedom, peace and prosperity. By contrast, the failure to extend this achievement to all European citizens fuels EU skepticism, foments a feeling of injustice and erodes the popularity of the EU, ultimately undermining public support for common European actions,” adding that the freedom of movement in the Schengen area has also resulted in significant economic benefits for participating Member States by facilitating the integration of cross-border trade.

Now the European Parliament is expected to vote on this non-legislative report in December.

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