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Minister Stroe: Romania and Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen Area will be resumed late this year

The EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) on Thursday decided that the issue regarding Romania and Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen Area be postponed until the end of 2013 so as to establish the ways to be followed for a two-stage accession, Romania's Interior Minister Radu Stroe said Thursday after the issue was discussed in Brussels.

'I would like to inform the public about the fact that what has been decided today is to resume the Schengen accession topic by the close of 2013 so as to establish the ways to be followed for a two-stage accession. This solution reconfirms the continuation of procedures for the accession of Romania to the Schengen Area. This is the compromise solution accepted by everyone and, as I was saying, we are going forward,' Stroe told a press conference.

As regards an actual deadline for the resumption of talks, Stroe said 'we are hoping this will be September-October, but it was agreed that before the year ends, because, for instance, there are elections in Germany in September.'

Asked to comment on statements by Dutch Minister of Security and Justice Fred Teevan upon arriving for the JHA Council meeting that the Netherland will oppose any decision on accession before a progress report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) this December, Stroe said the minister later nuanced his position.

'He said we definitely have to make a decision, but we have to see the CVM first,' said Stroe, insisting that the issue can nevertheless be tackled before December. 'There is the European Council summit and then the JHA Council meetings,' said Stroe.

He added that the issue of the European Commission's progress report under the CVM was mentioned at the meeting by the Netherlands, Germany and Finland.

'Germany, Finland and the Netherlands mentioned the CVM but with a positive agreement that by the end of the year we establish the ways of accession to the Schengen Area. I am not unhappy with the Netherlands, because the country said it wants the process concluded and that is why we reached this compromise to find a clear and fair solution by the close of the year,' said Stroe.


Uncommonly high number of EU states gives opinion at debate on Romania's Schengen entry


The debate on the full implementation of the Schengen acquis by Romania and Bulgaria drew a very large participation, with no less than 15-16 states stating their opinion, this being very uncommon within the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA), Romanian Minister of the Interior Radu Stroe said on Thursday in Brussels after the issue regarding Romania's and Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen Area was discussed at the interior ministers' meeting.

Finland and the Netherlands mentioned the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) report, but they agreed that by the end of the year, the ways to be followed for a two-stage accession should be established: the accession in terms of sea and air traffic and in terms of land traffic afterwards, Stroe told a news conference.

Radu Stroe referred also to Germany as being on the list of the countries putting Romania's entry to Schengen in relation to CVM. He also said he would meet with his German counterpart Hans-Peter Friedrich on Thursday.

'During the talks I will hold with the German (interior) minister, I shall make several proposals, among which technical issues, including to send officers to BKA (the German Federal Criminal Police Office), although, technically speaking, we have nothing to do at this point to enter Schengen, we achieved all the possible technical standards. But we shall approach this aspect too. Maybe also the social problems underscored by the German minister. There are three categories of issues,' Stroe said.

'All the other countries made no reference to the CVM, moreover, they also said CVM has nothing to do with Schengen, as we say it in Bucharest, and the Bulgarian authorities also,' Stroe stressed.

'I want to build something starting from this idea, to pave the way for the decision to be made in October, November (or) December,' he said.

Stroe thanked Slovakian Interior Minister Robert Kalinak for the support offered during the discussions on the application in full of the provisions of the Schengen legislation. Robert Kalinak told the EU interior ministers that also Slovakia had problems when its accession to Schengen was high on the EU agenda in 2007, nevertheless the country's bid proved to be a success.

In addition, Radu Stroe underscored that immediately after the JHA Council, Romania and Bulgaria will start 'going on the offensive with each EU member state, friends included,' but in particular with Germany, the Netherlands and Finland.

He also said that in his opinion, as well as of other interior ministers present at the JHA Council meeting, some states groundlessly link Romania's and Bulgaria's accession to Schengen to domestic issues. A large number of countries, including Romania, drew attention that the decisions of the EU member states on matters such as Schengen should be no longer influenced by elections, strikes, economic woes or the CVM.