Monday

24th Apr 2017

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.

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 ministers target 'benefit tourism'

Interior ministers from Austria, Germany, Netherlands, and the UK want to put an end to "benefit tourism," where foreign EU nationals take advantage of social welfare systems in host countries.

EU scrambles meeting over border chaos

The European Commission has called for a meeting this week with EU state experts, following border chaos after the launch of new rules that require systematic checks of EU citizens at the Schengen zone's external borders.

News in Brief

  1. Italy misses deadline on air quality warning
  2. Land mine kills OSCE observer in Ukraine
  3. Italy prosecutor claims NGOs are working with migrant smugglers
  4. Danish defence hacked by Russian cyberspies
  5. EU trade commissioner in US to pick up TTIP talks
  6. Juncker to meet Soros on Hungary next week
  7. Timmermans praises Romania's anti-corruption measures
  8. Trump says 'strong Europe' is good for the US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  2. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  3. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  4. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  5. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  6. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  7. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  9. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  10. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  11. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsTime to Turn the Tide and End Repression of Central Asia's Civil Society

Latest News

  1. Les fake news inondent les réseaux sociaux français
  2. Les amis de Le Pen à la Trump Tower
  3. France's election run-off will be far-right versus EU
  4. Alternative for Germany party refuses to shun extreme right
  5. Brexit summit, Turkey and Hungary dominate EU This WEEK
  6. Russia threat triggers European military spending hike
  7. Voters 'change face' of French politics
  8. France holds nail-biting 'anti-system' vote