MEPs Vote for Romania and Bulgaria to Join Schengen

The European Parliament on Tuesday adopted a report stressing that Romania and Bulgaria's readiness to join the Schengen Agreement should not be linked to the rule of law in the two countries, despite the lack of consensus on the matter in the European Council, the European Union's top decision-making body.

"The countries have already met the criteria, the Commission has said this, the experts have said this," the European Parliament's rapporteur, Bulgarian Socialist Sergey Stanishev, told his fellow MEPs during a debate in Strasbourg on Monday night. 

"The [EU] Council simply doesn't know what to say. For the past five years the Council has been in breach of European rules failing to adopt a decision on the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area," Stanishev said.

According to Stanishev's report, a rumoured proposal that the two countries join Schengen "partially" by removing restrictions for sea and air borders but keep restriction on land borders "did not make much sense" and could have a negative effect on the economy of the two EU states.

The report also urged the Council to step up the decision-making process in Croatia's case.

Stanishev criticiwed the Netherlands for opposing the Schengen admittal based on rule of law criteria, despite the two countries having met technical criteria for border safety and control.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte reiterated on September 13 when he visited Bucharest that his country opposes Romania joining Schengen due to its corruption problems.

The country has seen increased political turmoil during the past two years, after the ruling Social Democrat Party pushed for changes in the justice system to curb the influence of prosecutors. The legislative changes have been...

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