Romania and Bulgaria have met the criteria for accession to the Schengen Area and Serbia meets the criteria for being granted the EU candidate country status and it should be granted this status, President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz said in a speech to the opening of the Spring European Council.
‘Should decisions be taken not to grant Serbia candidate country status, and not to admit Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area, because individual states block them purely for reasons of political self-interest, then a community in which the same rules apply to all will have been replaced by one in which the some rules apply to some – but not others,’ said Schulz on Thursday.
He added that the 2005 Accession Treaties of Bulgaria and Romania lay down criteria governing accession of those countries to the Schengen Area. ‘If these criteria are met, those countries have a legitimate claim to join the Schengen area. Last year, the Council unanimously concluded its evaluation process, stating that Romania and Bulgaria met these criteria,’ said Schultz. The Spring European Council, which ends Friday, focuses mainly on economic issues, but it will also tackle the enlargement of the border-free Schengen Area.
The only country opposing Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Area is the Netherlands, which on Thursday reiterated its stance through the voice of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a meeting in Brussels with Martin Schulz.
The enlargement of the Schengen Area requires unanimity inside the EU’s Justice and Internal Affairs Council. The European Parliament, which voted yes for the enlargement last June, plays only a consultative part in the process.