The European Parliament discussed Romania's and Bulgaria's Schengen accession in Strasbourg
During a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, MEPs discussed Romania's and Bulgaria's accession to theSchengen passport-free travel area.
The Romanian MEPs pleaded for the 2 countries' inclusion as soon as possible, given that they have met all technical requirements since as far back as 2011.
"This year, since the start of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, Romania has hosted over 1 million Ukrainian refugees. Romania is able to secure the Schengen border under any circumstances. The inclusion of the 2 countries will make the entire European Union safer," the MEP Siegfried Mureşan argued.
In turn, MEP Dan Nica described the current situation as "humiliating and intolerable" for Bucharest, and called for European solidarity. And his colleague Eugen Tomac wondered "who benefits from keeping Romania and Bulgaria outside the borderless area?"
"Eleven years ago, the conclusion was reached that Romania and Bulgaria were ready for Schengen, yet in 2022 we are still talking about it," MEP Cristian Terheş added, in response to the German MEP Guido Reil's statement that Romania and Bulgaria must not be accepted into Schengen and that their EU accession itself was a mistake.
Dacian Cioloş also replied to the German MEP, and said that, unless Romania had flawlessly managed the Ukrainian refugee situation, Europe would have seen what the "Wild West" with which the German official likened Romania truly means.
Only a few other MEPs, from Italian far-right parties, opposed the Schengen area enlargement, for fear of massive migration. Most of the speakers in the European Parliament agreed however that Romania and Bulgaria must joint Schengen.
It is not the first time when MEPs say the 2 countries are ready for this. And the view is shared by the European Commission. But the decision rests with the Council. During the talks, the Czech presidency of the Council promised that efforts were being made for a decision regarding the issue to be adopted in the Council's December sitting. According to the Czech minister for European affairs Mikuláą Bek, completing the Schengen enlargement would be a major stage in the operation of the unrestricted travel area.
In this context, the Czech presidency announced that next week a mission would be organised, with experts from the 2 countries and EC members, to assess the implementation of the main provisions in the Schengen legislation. The EC vice-president and Commissioner for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, mentioned that Romania and Bulgaria met the technical accession criteria a long time ago. (AMP)