By Toby Vogel
Foreign minister says there should be no discrimination as his country aims to join borderless travel area.
Romania's foreign minister has called on theEuropean Union's interior ministers to provide a “clear perspective” for his country's accession to the Schengen area of borderless travel by the middle of next month.
Teodor Baconschi told European Voice he was “disappointed” that Romania, despite meeting all technical conditions for joining the EU's Schengen area, was prevented from doing so by France and Germany.
“Any discrimination between member states is not European in spirit and is going beyond the established rules,” he said. “We can easily imagine the chaos in which Europe as a whole risks going if we don't stick to clear rules and procedures.”
“We wouldn't like to see any artificial divisions between the eurozone and the others which are not inside, or between the new members and the so-called old members,” he said.
Romania had hoped to be invited to join the Schengen area this spring, but those hopes have been dashed by opposition from a group of member states led by France and Germany. They say that readiness for the Schengen area goes beyond narrow technical criteria and includes the state of a country's judicial system, and that Romania falls short of meeting those wider conditions.
National diplomats also raised concerns that Bulgaria is not ready for Schengen membership and that the two countries, which joined the EU at the same time, also had to enter Schengen at the same time because their common border is only lightly policed.
Baconschi said that “remarkable progress” had been made in reforming Romania's judiciary, not least thanks to the EU's Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, put in place following the country's accession in January 2007.
He warned that there was a “risk of pumping up populist attitudes” on illegal migration.
“I feel some fears within the European public opinion about the increase
of illegal migration,” he said, adding that Romania shared the goal of curbing illegal migration.
“Objectively, there's less risk of illegal migration from our side of Europe than from the southern part of Europe,” Baconschi said. “We don't expect millions of Russians and others to come through the Romanian Schengen border to Europe.”