Saturday, June 11, 2011

Romania Maintains Goal of 2011 Entry Into EU Visa-Free Zone

Romania still hopes to achieve its goal of joining the Schengen zone, which allows passport-free travel, this year, President Traian Basescu said.

The European Union Justice and Home Affairs Ministers Council said yesterday it will reconsider the bids of Romania and Bulgaria in September, if it sees an improvement from both Black Sea countries in the battle to overcome crime and corruption. The decision came a day after the European Parliament recommended the two countries’ applications.

“We are maintaining our goal to enter the Schengen area in 2011 and we’re waiting for a decision from the Council of Justice and Home Affairs in September on the entry timetable,” Basescu said in a speech today in Bucharest.

Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007, aspire to join eight other former communist countries that are already Schengen members. Their bids coincide with discussions in Franceand Denmark to reintroduce passport checks at their borders on concern about an influx of North African migrants through Italy.

Countries looking to join in the Schengen system, named for the Luxembourg village where the treaty allowing border-free travel was signed in 1985, need the unanimous endorsement of existing members, based on an assessment by the commission.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, voted 487 to 77 in favor of the Bulgarian and Romanian applications before passing the recommendation on to the ministerial council. The assembly urged Bulgaria “to take additional measures,” including a special action plan with Greece and Turkey, to cope with a possible surge in migration pressure.

“Romania officially rejects the introduction of new entry conditions,” Basescu said today.

The two former Soviet-bloc countries spent 1.16 billion euros ($1.68 billion) to beef up their border police and equip them with patrol boats, helicopters, scanners and night-vision cameras to ensure the security of borders with Turkey, Serbia, Moldova and Ukraine and a stretch of the Black Sea coast.

To contact the reporter on this story: Irina Savu in Bucharest at isavu@bloomberg.net; Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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