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Auteur: Daniël Verhoeven

Bron: Financial Times, 21 December 2010, Stanley Pignal in Brussels

Romania suffers EU open borders blow

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The Schengen area, named after a town in Luxembourg, has been in force since 1995 and now includes 25 European countries, most of them within the EU. Britain and Ireland are not members; Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are. It allows border-free travel. As unanimous political agreement among EU countries is necessary to join Schengen, the Franco-German position will force a new timetable to be drawn up, diplomats said. Germany and France on Tuesday blocked the extension of the European Union’s Schengen border-free area to include Romania and Bulgaria, snubbing them and their political allies in the former Eastern bloc.

Romania and Bulgaria had been working towards joining Schengen in spring 2011, a timetable that many thought unrealistic amid doubts in some member states over the wisdom of entrusting either country with the external borders of the EU. The move will be particularly disappointing for Hungary, which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency on January 1 and which had hoped to repair the fraying ties between “old” European member states such as France and Germany and newcomers to the bloc, mainly in the east.

But political factors are also thought to have weighed in. France remains worried about potential inflows of Roma gypsies from Romania and Bulgaria if borders were to be fully opened. Paris was criticised by the European Commission for apparently placing a priority on the dismantling of Romanian camps and for deporting more than 8,000 of them, sometimes with compensation.

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