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Schengen: Council declares Bulgaria and Romania prepared

EU member states’ Home Affairs Ministers will return to the issue of the Schengen accession of Bulgaria and Romania by the end of September. This was the unanimous decision made during the meeting of the Home Affairs Council on June 9 in Luxembourg.

 

“We are hopeful that during the Polish Presidency’s term there will be a chance for progress on this matter”, said Minister of Home Affairs Sándor Pintér acting as chair of the meeting, in a press conference held during the meeting. Responding to a journalist’s question, he said that even the Netherlands, the last remaining opponent of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, gave up its reservations. “The Netherlands has also accepted the Council’s conclusion, so practically there is no specific opponent of the matter at this moment”, Mr Pintér said.

Home Affairs Ministers concluded that Bulgaria and Romania are appropriately prepared for the application of the Schengen acquis, which marks the end of the evaluation stage of the two countries in terms of preparedness.

The document also provides that the Council will return to the issue of accession (border opening) as soon as possible, but no later than September 2011.

Now that Bulgaria and Romania have been found technical prepared, a decision will be made on eliminating control at the internal borders of the two countries. In response to a question, Mr Pintér indicated that the elimination of border control might take place in several steps, and in the first step it may only affect air border crossing points.

“Until September 2011, during the Polish Presidency, we will have to review this matter once again”, the Hungarian Home Affairs Minister said, pointing out that various proposals have been made. One is aimed at the gradual accession of Bulgaria and Romania. Under this proposal, the Schengen opening of airports would take place before the end of 2011, land and water crossings would come later, Pintér explained.

 

Sándor Laczkó

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