Schengen Area: Nobody but Juncker wants Bulgaria or Romania

Written by on September 18, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Schengen Area: Nobody but Juncker wants Bulgaria or Romania

Shortly after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had stated the Schengen Area needed to be opened Bulgaria and Romania immediately, he was rebuffed. “As long as the European Union’s external borders are not safe enough, there will have to be internal border checks” Germany’s Minister of the Interior, Thomas de Maizière, had said.

Since then, virtually everyone in Germany stated, Bulgaria and Romania, those two countries in South-Eastern Europe which became part of the European union ten and a half years ago, could not be part of the Schengen Group anytime soon.

Joachim Herrmann, the top candidate for the ultra-conservative Bavarian party CSU in the upcoming parliamentary elections, and Interior Minister of Bavaria at the same time, harshly rejected any admission: “In those countries, there is too much corruption and organised crime. Romania and Bulgaria do not meet the criteria for the Schengen Area”, Hermann said.

But even more moderate Interior Ministers in several German provinces see it the same way. Thomas Strobl, who heads the Interior Ministry in the federate state of Baden-Württemberg for Angela Merkel’s party CDU, was quoted in German dailies saying those two countries had made some headway in their fight against crime and corruption, “but they have not reached the maturity they need for a Schengen accession.”

In Lower Saxony, the social-democratic Interior Minister Boris Pistorius rejected Juncker’s proposal as well. “As long as it is unclear how we can organise the European border protection reliably, we cannot accept more countries into the Schengen Area”.

German Police Unions see it the same way. The Head of the “Deutsche Polizeigewerkschaft”, Rainer Wendt, indicated he doubted Bulgaria and Romania would be able to meet all requirements of the system, according to the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” daily. His colleague Jörg Radek from the “Gewerkschaft der Polizei” said, an enlargement would lead to a deterioration of the situation at the borders.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on the campaign trail ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections, sounded far more positive. She said she wanted an enlargement of the Schengen Area, in principle. Juncker’s proposal was “a reasonable approach”. But, the Chancellor also stated, the conditions had to be met. In other words: Merkel rejects an enlargement of the Schengen Zone at this moment, like her colleagues.

Photo: Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann, by CSU Erlangen

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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