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French Ambassador: We will make all efforts to contribute to expansion of Schengen Area, to include Romania



France will make "every effort" to contribute to the expansion of the Schengen Area, showing that Romania already meets the technical criteria in this regard, French Ambassador in Bucharest Laurence Auer said on Tuesday.

She attended a conference marking France's takeover of the presidency of the Council of the European Union for the next six months. She was accompanied by the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, and the Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Bucharest, Ramona Chiriac.

"During these six months, we will make every effort to contribute to the expansion of the Schengen Area, to include Romania," the French diplomat said. Laurence Auer spoke about the fact that Romania already meets the technical criteria for inclusion.

"I have stated several times that Romania has met all the criteria, passed all the technical tests so that it is ready to join the Schengen Area (...) We are ready to work to expand the Schengen Area. Now we work on the connection between the package of measures for Schengen and for asylum and migration in order to strengthen the Schengen Area," the diplomat said, according to the official translation.

She underscored that, in this context, "we are all involved in decisions that require consensus."

"The French presidency does not have a specific plan for this expansion of the Schengen Area, there is no precise timetable for the EU Council, because in the Schengen file we also have the need to strengthen the customs code. The two exercises, from the point of view of the presidency, the enlargement and the strengthening must take place simultaneously, in order to have a harmonious Schengen Area as a whole and (...) we aim to make an area in which the Schengen member states can help each other," Laurence Auer said.

For her part, Ramona Chiriac pointed out that "Romania has its role, clearly established in the future architecture of the Schengen Area, of a Schengen Area that the European Commission wants to be robust and able to respond to the various threats we will have to face."

"The clear message of the European Commission regarding Romania's membership of the Schengen Area is that Romania meets all the technical criteria and that now the political decision will be unanimously up to the Council of the European Union and in this sense we welcome the priority of the French Presidency in this respect," said the Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Romania.

Minister Bogdan Aurescu said that "the recent development, including in the context of the pandemic, has shown us that the fragmentation of the Schengen Area, by maintaining internal borders, can have a negative impact on the integrity and functioning of the single market."

"Romania supports a perfectly integrated Schengen Area, which will also include the functioning of the single market. Regarding the new dimension, which imprints a political dimension on the Schengen Area, Romania's accession to the Schengen Area remains a priority objective, since our country checked all the accession criteria a few years ago," highlighted the Minister, according to the official translation.