Bulgaria and Romania will be blocked from joining the Europe’s passport-free travel zone, following French and German interior minister declared it “premature” to let them join Schengen in March 2011. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
According to them Bulgaria and Romania need to make “irreversible progress” in the fight against corruption and organised crime.
While Romania condemned the decision, Bulgaria promised to “do its utmost” in order to remove doubts about its membership.
Brice Hortefeux and Thomas de Maiziere, French and German interior minister expressed their objections in a letter to European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, AFP news agency reported.
In January, experts from EU states are due to present a report after visiting Romania and Bulgaria. Governments will use this document to make a decision on Romanian and Bulgarian membership, and Schengen members must agree in unanimity.
There has also been a lack of progress by those two countries in reforming their judiciary, according to a spokesman for Germany’s interior ministry, Associated Press news agency reported.
The spokesman added that those deficits could have “grave consequences for the European Union’s security” and raised concerns about an “overly swift” adhesion to the Schengen area.
“I believe that the Franco-German letter sent to the European Commission is an act of discrimination against Romania”, said Romanian President Traian Basescu.
Bulgarian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Vessela Tcherneva told AFP: “We are aware that the political situation in some EU member countries is complicated. For that reason, we will do our utmost to remove any doubts, including in the areas of the judicial system and society as a whole.”
25 European countries make up the Schengen zone : the 27 EU members, minus the UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus; plus three non-EU nations – Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.