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EU lawmakers back Romania and Bulgaria Schengen bid

Louis Oelofse
October 18, 2022

EU lawmakers have said the two countries have long been eligible to join the EU's visa free movement area. They described failure to admit the two eastern European member states as "discriminatory."

Schengen Zone Countries and Non-EU countries Passport control at the Greek capital, Athens International Airport
The Schengen Agreement allows free movement of people and goods between its member statesImage: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/picture alliance

European lawmakers (MEPs) on Tuesday urged the Council of the European Union to include Romania and Bulgaria's in the Schengen free movement area by the end of the year. 

The European Parliament said not admitting the two countries was "discriminatory" and hurt the EU's single market.

The two countries are EU members and (MEPs) say they have long "fulfilled the necessary conditions," to join the Schengen area.

Why are some countries reluctant to expand Schengen?

The European Commission has previously said both countries fulfilled the technical requirementsto join the free movement area, however, some EU member states, including Germany and France, have voiced concerns.

Judicial reforms, the fight against corruption, and the fight against organized crime were among the issues raised.

MEPs, however, said, "maintaining internal border controls is discriminatory and has a serious impact on the lives of mobile workers and citizens."

"By obstructing imports, exports and the free flow of goods from freight ports, they also harm the EU single market," they added.

Romania's Prime Minister, Nicolae Ciuca, welcomed support from European lawmakers.

"Our expectations to join Schengen are justified and legitimate," he wrote.

He added the necessary conditions were met and the decision should be taken.

Accession of new countries to Schengen on the Council agenda

Romania and Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Ireland are EU countries that are not part of Schengen area, which is normally free of stationary border controls.

Non-EU European countries Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also part of the area.

Schengen is "one of the greatest achievements of the European Union," lawmakers declared.

The Czech Republic, which currently holds the presidency of the Council, said it intended to hold discussions about Romania and Bulgaria's accession by the the end of the year.

Accession to Schengen requires a unanimous decision by the Council to get approved.

Materiel from dpa contributed to this report

Edited by: Wesley Rahn