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The Netherland delays Romania and Bulgaria’s Schengen entry

Romania and Bulgaria’s access to the Schengen Area has been pushed back by a year by the Netherlands’ decision to refrain from voting in the European Parliament. Under European Union (EU) rules, a unanimous vote is required to add new members to the passport-free zone

July 2011 - From the Print Edition

Dutch officials said they would decide whether Romania and Bulgaria should join the area in 2012, and until then the two countries would remain under observation, to see if they are able to secure their borders and fight corruption.
The announcement came on June 9, just one day after the European Parliament had voted in favor of Romania and Bulgaria’s entry to the Schengen Area. The Netherlands’ reluctance is also shared by countries such as France and Germany, which have questioned the Balkan neighbors’ ability to fight corruption, thereby undermining their capacity to secure their borders against illegal immigration and trafficking.
The governments of other EU member states are also waiting for the European Commission’s report on reforms in the fields of justice and the fight against corruption implemented by the two countries, due to be made public in July. Also, according to Jean-Dominique Nollet, chief of Europol’s Analysis Unit, extending the Schengen Area to include Romania and Bulgaria might encourage illegal immigration through the Greek-Turkish border.
Meanwhile, Romanian officials remain optimistic that the country will get the nod by the end of this year. Prime Minister Emil Boc recently said that he hopes that by autumn Romania will be given the green light to join the Schengen Area in October. He added that there was also the option to join in stages. The Schengen Area consists of 26 member states, four of which are not members of the EU.

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