- Bulgaria and Romania have long fulfilled the necessary criteria
- Schengen enlargement requires Council unanimity
- Exclusion is discriminatory, and has a negative impact on the EU Single Market
The European Parliament urges member states to allow Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen free-travel area without delay.
In a resolution adopted on Tuesday, MEPs say the Council should adopt a decision on Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen free movement area by the end of 2022. This should ensure the abolition of checks on persons at all internal borders for both countries in early 2023. The resolution was adopted with 547 votes in favour, 49 votes against, and 43 abstaining.
Noting that the Schengen area is “one of the greatest achievements of the European Union”, MEPs criticise the Council’s failure to take a decision on admitting Bulgaria and Romania, even though the two countries have long since fulfilled the necessary conditions. Maintaining internal border controls is discriminatory and has a serious impact on the lives of mobile workers and citizens, MEPs say. By obstructing imports, exports and the free flow of goods from freight ports, they also harm the EU single market.
Currently, all EU member states except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania are part of the Schengen area, which also encompasses non-EU states Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. MEPs have called for Bulgaria and Romania to be fully admitted into Schengen on multiple occasions, such as in a 2018 resolution on the topic, the 2020 resolution on the state of Schengen in the context of the pandemic, and a 2021 report on the functioning of the free travel area. Today’s resolution is the conclusion of a plenary debate from 5 October 2022.
The accession of new countries to Schengen requires a unanimous decision by the Council of the EU. The Czech Presidency of the Council has indicated that it intends to hold discussions on the subject before the end of 2022.