German Interior Minister neither wants Bulgaria nor Romania in Schengen Area

Written by on September 15, 2017 in Europe - Comments Off on German Interior Minister neither wants Bulgaria nor Romania in Schengen Area

Germany’s Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, is against a quick admission of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen Zone. In Brussels, de Maizière stated he shared the vision expressed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker a day earlier. “But, to be honest, it is a rather long road.”

On Wednesday, Juncker had held his annual speech, in which he pleaded for a quick extension of Schengen. “If we want to strengthen the protection of our external borders, then we need to open the Schengen area to Bulgaria and Romania immediately”, Juncker had said.

Thomas de Maizière even indicated, he wanted to stick to the border controls between Germany and Austria, in spite of the fact that those are not envisaged in the Schengen Agreement. These checks had been reintroduced during the refugee crisis in 2015. “As long as the European Union’s external borders are not safe enough, there will have to be internal border checks”, the minister stated.

Critical statements were also heard from Vienna. Austria’s Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said, the Euro and Schengen zones “are open for all, but actually only those who meet the criteria.”

For years, Bulgaria’s governments have talked about their readiness for the Schengen Zone many times. Another bid to join both the Schengen and Euro zones is expected once Bulgaria takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on January 1st, 2018. At the same time, there are obvious problems, especially connected to Bulgaria’s Schengen ambitions: The Bulgarian Border Police is known for countless corruption scandals, which keep on appearing.

In the meantime, German trade associations have criticised the Euro Zone part of Juncker’s speech. Before any extension could be implemented, existing problems would have to be solved, they said.

For instance, there were huge differences between Eurozone countries, regarding their competitiveness. By admitting more economically weak countries, those problems would be amplified, the powerful association BGA said. „The problem is not the introduction of the Euro”, according to a BGA spokesman. “The problem is that in countries which want the Euro, there is a lack of willingness regarding the implementation of reforms.”

 

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Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com