Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Positive" Schengen report for Romania: Bucharest

28 January 2011

(BUCHAREST) - A report by independent experts presented in Brussels on Friday confirmed that Romania "met the criteria" for joining the Schengen area, the Romanian interior ministry said.

"The evaluation report on Romania regarding the Schengen information system (SIS) was approved this Friday during a reunion of the evaluation group", according to a ministry statement.

"This report is positive, it underlines that Romania fully meets the Schengen criteria related to the SIS and it was accepted by the member states, including by the French representative, who previously requested additional time to study it", Bucharest added.

According to Romanian authorities, the previous six reports concerning the country's preparations have also been positive.

Romania was hoping to join the visa-free Schengen area in March 2011, but countries like France and Germany have voiced their opposition, saying Bucharest still had to make progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime.

French Minister for European Affairs Laurent Wauquiez recently said that premature entry of Romania or Bulgaria into the Schengen zone could pose a security risk to Europe.

"If the database of information for the Schengen area were to end up in the hands of international criminals, it could do away with all of European internal security".

But Romania has stressed that it had been connected to the SIS since early November and that "no problems of the kind have been recorded over this period".

The Schengen zone covers 25 member countries of the EU, with more than 400 million citizens being allowed to move freely without other internal border controls.

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