Despite both countries requesting to join the Schengen area since 2007, Romania and Bulgaria are still not members and their appeals have all been rejected. The commission has previously said that both nations fulfil all the technical requirements, so why is their access to the zone still being denied? The problem lies with some of the reservations that have been put forward over the security of the rest of the EU. For example, a number of other member states including Germany and France have highlighted their concerns over security issues like accusations of corruption and rule of law in the two countries.
But politicians in Romania and Bulgaria hope that this is about to change. Bulgaria’s foreign affairs minister, Ekaterina Zaharieva is one official who has recently challenged the EU over its decision to keep border controls in place – even if they are considered temporary. She claims that Bulgaria meet the requirements and is pushing for them to join the Schengen area by the end of this year, with one of her most important arguments being the fact that Bulgaria now holds the European Council rotating presidency.
One skeptic is Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, who recently said that although it would be beneficial for them to join the zone in the long term, the security of both Germany and the rest of the EU shouldn’t be put at risk to achieve this objective. He added that the threat of “widespread corruption and the massive problem of organized crime” is, in reality, a very real one and the EU wouldn’t be able to justify dropping controls on the Bulgarian and Romanian borders.
Angela Merkel has also spoken out. She said that she’s fully supportive of EU member states joining the Schengen area, and she believes that European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, was right in his approach to allow Bulgaria and Romania to join as soon as possible is a reasonable one. However, she added that Germany borders need to be protected in the future. Until the protection of the external border works as we envision it, it is absolutely right that there should be controls at critical points along EU interior borders,” she said.
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