Monday

15th Oct 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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"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 passport sales create 'proud Maltese citizens'

Malta says its 'Golden Visas' scheme attracts families that want to become "proud Maltese citizens". Meanwhile the sales to Russian nationals, and others, have generated over €700m in revenue.

News in Brief

  1. Le Pen warms towards cooperation with Bannon
  2. Bettel set to stay in power in Luxembourg after election
  3. EU-UK Brexit deal talks paused
  4. Macedonian parliament to vote on name change Monday
  5. Swedish opposition leader gives up on forming government
  6. Commission confirms: no record of Juncker speech seminar
  7. Ukraine splits from Russian orthodox church
  8. Polish doctor wins landmark pro-life case in Norway

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Daily reality in Western Sahara - and how EU can protect it
  2. Bavarian election puts Merkel on defensive
  3. It's time for the EU to stand up to transnational corporations
  4. Tug of war between 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' cohesion money
  5. 'Macron vs Orban' is no quick fix for EU democracy
  6. Brexit and sanctions at EU summit This WEEK
  7. EU looks at Morocco and Tunisia to offload migrants
  8. EU urged to seize assets of foreign hackers

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us