28th Oct 2016

Bulgaria and Romania to be denied passport-free travel

  • Romania and Bulgaria will have to wait longer for passport-free travel (Photo: adobemac)

EU interior ministers are Thursday (7 March) set to defer a decision on Bulgaria and Romania accession to the passport free zone Schengen zone.

“I think it is clear that there will not be a vote or a decision at tomorrow’s council meeting,” said a EU presidency source on Wednesday.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Both countries fulfilled the technical requirements in 2011 to allow their citizens to join the 22 other passport free EU countries as well as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution in June 2011 stating that Bulgaria and Romania are ready to join. The resolution urged member states to enlarge the Schengen area based solely on the technical merits.

A unanimous decision is required among member state ministers before full membership is granted. Ministers in March last year noted that all legal conditions had been met but instead opted for a two-step membership approach.

In the first phase, checks on persons would be abolished at internal sea and air borders and between Bulgaria and Romania. The second phase would remove the remaining land border barriers.

But a number of member states, including Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands, say corruption and rule of law undermine Bulgaria and Romania’s bid for full membership.

Germany’s interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich on Monday said “Romania and Bulgaria still have to act with more determination against corruption”.

Any decision or vote on their membership will now most likely be handled by the next EU presidency, run by Lithuania in the second half of this year.

“I think what you will see is a commitment to come back to it before too long, during this year certainly,” said the source.

High-level cases of corruption, organised crime, and judicial reform are among some of the issues highlighted by the European Commission’s report in Bulgaria last year.

The massive protests that swept Bulgaria reflect some of those concerns and unseated Bulgaria’s prime minister Boris Borisov.

In Varna, Bulgaria’s third largest city, protestors ousted the 13-year reign of its mayor who stepped down on Wednesday, a day after a thirty-six year old artist died setting himself on fire outside the gates of city hall.

EU extends internal border checks

Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Norway granted three-month extensions on border controls despite fall in migrant numbers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersUN global sustainable development goals, integration, and security on agenda for Nordic Council Session 2016
  2. Taipei EU OfficeTaiwan Seeks to Join Fight against Global Warming
  3. ANCI LazioAnci Lazio Definetely has a lot to Celebrate This Year
  4. EU-China ForumDebating the Future of the EU-China Relations on 28 November in Prague
  5. COMECEMigrants: From Fear to Compassion
  6. Birdlife EuropeBusiness as Usual - Juncker Snubs Environment and Protects Broken CAP
  7. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  8. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  10. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  11. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  12. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament

Latest News

  1. Calais children abandoned at former camp site
  2. Greece to probe UN allegations of illegal returns
  3. Poland defies EU on rule of law
  4. Belgium breaks Ceta deadlock
  5. Left MEPs thwarting Dieselgate probe, say right MEPs
  6. Cars should be allowed to exceed emissions limits, say experts
  7. EU case against Google is bad for developers
  8. Privacy activists mount court challenge to EU-US data pact