Delayed for more than a decade, Romania’s accession to the Schengen area may be postponed again, this time for only a month or two.
The European Commission’s proposal to end the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Romania in the justice system has made Romanian authorities have high hopes as regards their country’s accession to the Schengen area, after 11 years of waiting. EC experts voiced their conviction that Romania observes all European norms in terms of border security, and the expert mission that has recently been to Bucharest has confirmed that the country meets all criteria for a full implementation of the Schengen legislation.
Nevertheless, the reservations expressed by the Netherlands and, more recently, by Austria, regarding Romania joining the free travel area, have raised questions whether an unanimous vote on December 8 is still possible. This is why Romanian president Klaus Iohannis has not ruled out the possibility for the final decision to be postponed by a month or two. We stand good chances to join Schengen and is not helping anyone to force a vote which may not be the expected one, Iohannis said. He also made it clear that Austria should not worry about illegal migrants crossing Romania’s borders, which are also the EU borders. Klaus Iohannis: “There has not been and will not be any uncontrolled migration flow via Romania. It is not Romania that these migrants come from or transit. The Balkan route is the problem, we know it and in Romania all necessary measures have been taken in this respect.”
The Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammer said Tuesday that there are 100,000 people in Austria who crossed the border illegally, of whom 75,000 transited countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary without being registered by the authorities in those countries. It is a security risk and we must deal with it, the German official said.
Romania’s accession to Schengen will be a plus for European security and not a danger to member states, Romanian Interior Minister Lucian Bode told his Austrian counterpart, Gherhard Karner, with whom he discussed in Vienna the Schengen topic and ways to manage migration waves. Bode presented the German official data on how Bucharest protects external borders, including how illegal migrants or asylum seekers are registered. According to the Interior Minister, only 2.7% of the total migrants reached the EU via Romania, a value that could indicate the fact that Romania is not on the Western Balkans’ migration route. Bode stated he received assurances, from Vienna, that the latest statements on the Schengen issue are not directed against Romania but they emphasize the need for urgent action as regards the management of migration challenges affecting Austria. (EE)