Denmark against early Schengen enlargement too


Danish MEPs across party lines have asked their government to back France and Germany in their opposition to the early accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU's Schengen borderless area. Dnevnik, EURACTIV's partner in Bulgaria, reports.

Four MEPs from different political groups have signed a letter to Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, insisting that Romania and Bulgaria should not join the Schengen club before cracking down on corruption and organised crime.

The four signatories are Bendt Bendtsen from the centre-right European People's Party, Christel Schaldemose from the centre-left Socialists & Democrats group, Emilie Turunen from the Greens/European Free Alliance group and Jens Rohde from the liberal ALDE group.

The four claim that the date 1 October 2011, set by the Hungarian EU Presidency for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen, is premature (see 'Background'). They further write that the EU should not set any target dates for the accession of the two EU newcomers.

Earlier this week, German MEPs Jens Rohde and Alexander Alvaro (ALDE) tabled amendments to a parliamentary report regarding Romaina and Bulgaria's Schengen accession, asking for the date 2011 to be deleted as a target date for them to join.  

Rohde stated that European citizens had increasingly become victims of theft and robbery, most often committed by Romanian criminals. He strongly insisted that a thorough examination of the two countries' readiness to join should take place before any decision on their accession to Schengen is made.

The Danish MEP also admitted that recent developments in the Mediterranean suggested that it was not the right time to discuss Schengen enlargement.

"It is better to ask for the necessary guarantees from Bulgaria and Romania, to decide what we're going to do with Schengen in the first place, and only then to discuss a possible accession date," he is quoted as saying.

On 26 April, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi asked Brussels to make changes to the treaty establishing the Schengen border-free area. The proposed changes strengthen the hand of member countries and undermine the role of the European Commission.

When Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU on 1 January 2007, shortcomings remained regarding judicial reform and the fight against corruption - and in the case of Bulgaria, the fight against organised crime.

As a consequence, the two countries were prevented from entering the Schengen area, an agreement to gradually dismantle checks at common borders.

A monitoring mechanism was set up to assist both countries in adapting to EU standards in judicial affairs when they joined the EU. In September 2010, EU European affairs ministers decided to extend Brussels' monitoring of Romania and Bulgaria.

Sofia and Bucharest had set March 2011 as the deadline to join Schengen but their accession was delayed.

Recent troubles with the Roma people in Western European countries, particularly France, have fuelled scepticism about Romania and Bulgaria's Schengen accession because the largest Roma communities currently live in these two countries.

The Hungarian EU Presidency backs the early accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán recently deplored the "lack of political will" to achieve this objective.

Subscribe to our newsletters