The European Parliament has voted to adopt a report recommending Schengen accession for Romania and Bulgaria.
The report, prepared by the European Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and approved by an overwhelming majority of MEPs, recommends separating the process of Schengen accession for Romania and Bulgaria from the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, which compels Schengen candidate countries to address institutional problems with their law and justice systems.
In addition to recommending the elimination of the justice system requirement, the report goes on to call for an end to the proposed two-step approach to Schengen accession for Romania and Bulgaria, which would see border checks ending at internal air and sea borders, followed by internal land borders some time later. The two-step approach has proved unpopular with MEPs due to its inherent security risks and the extent to which it slows down the full Schengen area accession process.
Rapporteur Sergei Stanishev said: “Today the Parliament went beyond its repeated calls for immediate Schengen accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area by insisting on full accession with all borders – land, maritime and air. We categorically reject partial accession, as it not only lacks any legally sound justification, but also entails a number of economic, social and political downsides for the whole EU.”
In the report, MEPs declared that the delay in establishing full Schengen accession for Romania and Bulgaria has resulted in negative consequences for the EU, highlighting the diminishing of public trust in EU institutions brought about by the flawed two-step accession process. Romania and Bulgaria currently only partially apply Schengen rules and still implement border checks at internal borders between the two countries, leading to a negative economic impact on EU imports and exports to and from Romania and Bulgaria. Stanishev said: “For the past five years the council has been in breach of European rules by failing to adopt a decision on the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area.”
The report on Schengen accession for Romania and Bulgaria will now be passed to the Council of Europe, which must vote unanimously for Schengen accession to be successful.