Deutsche Welle: Bulgaria and Romania push to join EU's Schengen Area21 February 2018 | 14:01 | FOCUS News Agency
Bulgaria's foreign affairs minister, Ekaterina Zaharieva, has once again challenged the European Union over expanding the border-free Schengen Area. Not only did she call for the repeal of temporary border controls within the bloc in a recent interview with the German daily newspaper Die Welt, she also demanded that Bulgaria and Romania be admitted to the Schengen Area by the end of the year.
The diplomat's proposal is backed by a certain amount of political heft, considering Bulgaria currently holds the European Council's rotating presidency. Yet the initiative is anything but new. Bulgarian and Romanian politicians have been demanding membership in the Schengen Area with tenacious regularity since being invited to join it on January 1, 2007. Each time they have done so, the request has been denied on the basis of deficiencies in the areas of rule of law and fighting corruption.
Although the European Commission has said both countries fulfill the technical requirements put to them, a number of EU member states, above all France and Germany, have voiced reservations. And rightly so, say critics of a premature accession.
One of the most prominent skeptics is Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann. He said in a recent newspaper interview that it would be desirable for both countries to join the Schengen Area in the longterm but he stressed that the security of German citizens should not be put at risk to do so. He added that the threat emanating from Bulgaria and Romania with regard to "widespread corruption and the massive problem of organized crime" was simply too great. He also noted that it would be impossible to justify reintroducing border controls with Austria while at the same time dropping controls at the Bulgarian and Romanian frontiers before the protection of the EU external borders could be guaranteed.
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