Member States should avoid national populism and allow Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen border check-free area solely on the basis of existing membership criteria, says the European Parliament in a resolution passed on Thursday. MEPs call on the European Council to take the necessary measures to enable both countries to join.
Following the Dutch-Finnish decision on 22 September to block Bulgaria and Romania's bid, Parliament voted, by a large majority to reiterate its support for including both countries in the Schengen area.
Bulgaria and Romania "have fulfilled all the criteria" for joining, MEPs insist. They have fully implemented the Schengen rules, which is "the only prerequisite for their accession" to the border-free area.
Parliament urges all Member States to decide on their membership "solely on the basis of the Schengen acquis and procedures". Additional criteria cannot be imposed on these two countries, stresses the EP, asking Member States to honour their commitments and "not to give priority to national populism".
MEPs rejected an amendment that would have asked the Commission to present proposals to strengthen the Schengen acquis, by incorporating in it additional criteria concerning organised crime and corruption.
Border security: Bulgaria and Romania are reliable partners
"Both countries have fundamentally redesigned and reorganised their integrated border management systems by investing substantially in their law enforcement authorities (...) and have visibly reinforced their institutional and legal frameworks", underlines the resolution.
The EP notes the "constant support and solidarity shown by Bulgaria and Romania as reliable partners" in south-eastern Europe, along with their continual contribution to border security in this part of the EU.
"Bulgaria and Romania deserve to be in the Schengen area. They meet all required criteria. Their borders are secure. I urge all Member States to take the decision on enlarging the Schengen area to Bulgaria and Romania solely on the basis of the Schengen acquis and procedures. Bulgaria and Romania should be able to count on solidarity and fairness from their EU partners", said the President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolution
Isabel Teixeira NADKARNI