The enlargement of the Schengen area to Bulgaria and Romania is in focus of the Bulgarian presidency of the EU, and the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
Despite Bulgaria and Romania fulfilling the necessary criteria and repeated calls from the MEPs to let them join, the Schengen area has not been expanded to these two countries yet as EU national governments have to unanimously agree to allow new states to enter the border-free zone.
The process regarding Croatia’s entry is ongoing, while Cyprus has a temporary derogation from joining the Schengen area.
“We pushed you. You did your homework but the problem is the unanimity in the Council” – Portuguese MEP Carlos Coelho said. Romanian S&D MEP Emilian Pavel said: “Prolonging this situation, this uncertainty, brings a negative image of the EU, people see that we are treated as second class citizens.”
“The Commission has repeatedly said that both Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled all technical criteria but because some countries object, we are not members. It is sad that we allow politics to stand in the way of rules” – Bulgarian EPP member Emil Radev added.
Fellow Bulgarian Asim Ademov, also a member of the EPP group, regrets “a lack of solidarity” and “double standards”.
Portuguese EPP member Carlos Coelho wrote Parliament’s report on the revision of the Schengen Information System. However there is also an ongoing debate on corruption and organised crime in both countries, casting the shadow of doubt on the possibility to join Schengen without delivering convincing evidence of the defeat of the organised crime.