22nd Mar 2018

Bulgaria and Romania's Schengen bid vetoed

  • The EU has "broken promises" to Bulgaria and Romania, according to Poland (Photo: Council of European Union)

The Netherlands and Finland on Thursday (22 September) vetoed Romania and Bulgaria's bid to join the border-free Schengen area, a move the Polish EU presidency said represented a "sad conclusion about mutual trust among member states."

"Mutual trust means keeping promises as well. Today that promise has been broken," Polish interior minister Jerzy Miller told reporters after the meeting. He said both Bulgaria and Romania were told they would join Schengen once they met the criteria and that the latest technical evaluations in April had confirmed they had done so.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"We live in difficult times for the EU. Such times require mutual support. And today we are not confident enough to say we want to act together," he said.

Miller also noted that both countries had already been given access to the Schengen information system (SIS) which records cross-border criminal suspects and stolen vehicles. "We are using their assistance, but not accepting them in our family, this is not what solidarity is about," Miller said.

But both the Finnish and Dutch interior ministers aruged that the two countries had not done enough to fight corruption and organised crime and could not yet be trusted with guarding the borders of the 25-member-strong area.

"At a time when we are asked for financial solidarity, we need the trust of our citizens. You can only make that work when you show that rules are respected," Dutch minister Gerd Leers told reporters after the meeting.

Responding to the argument that the two countries are technically ready, Leers said: "You can have a door locked and fitted with the latest systems, but if the guard is not trustworthy, it's no use."

A Franco-German compromise allowing the two countries to join this autumn with their airports and sea ports and have their land borders lifted later on was also unacceptable because the negotiating position would be weakened once a green light was given in principle for the two to join Schengen.

Both Finland and the Netherlands indicated they would revisit their position only after an EU commission assessment in February 2012 of how Romania and Bulgaria are tackling corruption and organised crime.

"In fact, Romania and Bulgaria got in the EU too early, that's why we have the commission's monitoring and that's why we are taking Schengen enlargement so seriously," Leers stressed.

But to the Romanian and Bulgarian ministers, the veto was seen as unfair and disappointing.

"We expected a favourable decision today about our accession. Nineteen countries were in favour of our accession and said that it's not normal to change the rules during the game," Romanian interior minister Traian Igas said.

The only way to unblock the situation is to have "dialogue" with the Hague and Helsinki, he stressed, adding that his country is willing to receive experts from the two countries to see how the Romanian borders are being managed.

As for the argument that the rule of law in Romania is too shaky to be trusted, Igas retorted that the largest foreign capital in his country comes from Dutch companies: "If Dutch businessmen are trusting enough to invest, it is unacceptable for the Dutch government to say those things."

He put the blame on anti-immigrant parties in the Netherlands and Finland and said that "we are obliged too much to involve isolated political groups, who hurt EU ideas."

Finnish interior minister Patvi Rasanen disagreed, however: "This has nothing to do with Finnish domestic politics or the Romanian Roma on the streets of Helsinki. They have to speed up the fight against corruption and reform their judiciary. We may go back to the issue in spring, after the commission's report."

Netherlands, Finland oppose Schengen enlargement

An interior ministers' meeting on Thursday is unlikely to approve a phased-in entry of Bulgaria and Romania into the border-free Schengen area, due to Dutch and Finnish concerns about corruption and organised crime.

Finland drops veto against Schengen enlargement

Finland has dropped its veto against Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the border-free Schengen area next year, leaving the Netherlands as the only blocking country.

Interior ministers divided on EU border controls

A meeting of interior ministers on Tuesday is unlikely to take any decision in the "messy" debate on letting the EU have a say in the temporary re-introduction of border checks to fight irregular migration.

Germany to veto Schengen enlargement

Germany says it will veto Romania and Bulgaria's bid to join the border-free Schengen area at a meeting in Brussels later this week.


EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery

The EU-Turkey deal was agreed two years ago in Brussels. Focus has largely been on reducing migrant flows across the Mediterranean and helping Syrian refugees in Turkey, while the plight of those on the Greek islands are ignored.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. EU to have 'immediate' trade talks with Trump
  2. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  3. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  4. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest
  5. Finland hosts secretive North Korean talks
  6. EU to unveil 3% tax on digital giants
  7. German elected S&D leader in European Parliament
  8. Germany: nearly €350m child benefit goes abroad

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  2. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  3. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  4. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  5. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  6. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  7. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  8. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections