The Gates to Schengen Remain Locked for Bulgaria and Romania

France and Germany have officially announced that they will block the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area, Euractiv reports. The main deficiencies in both countries that they outline are the absence of a satisfactory juridical and administrative environment in the fields of security and justice, persisting corruption at different levels and worrying levels of organised crime.

This letter does not come as a surprise to this blogger. I have time and again noted that both Bulgaria and Romania are facing significant challenges in the reform of the judiciary and the fight against corruption and organized crime. Two questions, however, linger on.

The first question is whether Bulgaria and Romania were fit to become Member States in 2007. The European Commission believed so, and so did France and Germany at the time. However, this leads to the logical conclusion that both countries in fact experienced a deterioration of the rule of law since accession.

The second question is whether Bulgaria and Romania can actually, at any point in the future, join the Schengen area. This is not an absurd question, since if separate Member States reaffirm their right of individual assessment of the quality of the judicial systems of candidates, it may turn out that both Bulgaria and Romania are assessed against unachievable standards that surpass the present level of rule of law in the Schengen area. Again, this is a logically derived possibility.

France and Germany should understand that answering both questions will have its consequences for the level of solidarity and cohesion in the European Union.



8 responses to “The Gates to Schengen Remain Locked for Bulgaria and Romania

  1. Vihar,
    I think your analysis is wrong. Here is why.

    Whether the EC, Germany, France and Uncle Tom Cobbley thought that Bulgaria and Romania were suitable EU countries is no more relevant back in 2007 as it is today.

    The decision to let them in had nothing to do with a serious look at the levels of “judiciary and the fight against corruption and organized crime” apparent then or now. So your question as to whether things have got worse is moot.

    Those two countries were allowed in for Political reasons, just as blocking them from Schenegen is political.

    Back in 2007 it was because the EU must be seen t o increase, whatever the possible outcome. Today the government’s of Merkle and Sarkozy have to turn to their own people to show that they are being responsible.

    Your second question is extremely interesting and highlights the move away from the ‘Community method’ which is bedevilling the actions of the EU, seem most obviously in response to the financial crisis. It appears that cracks are showing more and more.

    • Вихър Георгиев


      On the first question: it is more complicated than that. Although the Copenhagen criteria were not, stricto sensu, legally binding, they did serve as important benchmarks for the Commission assessment and the Commission proclaimed that both Bulgaria and Romania did fulfill these criteria at the time. Your claim that the decision “had nothing to do with a serious look at the levels of „judiciary and the fight against corruption and organized crime“ is not accurate, since no other than the German Bundestag demanded the introduction of a monitoring mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania in November 2006. The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) was duly introduced by the Commission in December 2006 (a precedent in EU’s enlargement history). But herein lies the question: did the European Commission in its mislead Member States? Or were Member States properly briefed on all deficiencies of the rule of law in Bulgaria and Romania?

      On the second question you tend to agree with me, which would mean that my analysis, from your perspective, is only partially wrong 🙂

  2. Yes indeed, only partially wrong.

    And I think that you have highlightred a very impiortant trend. One whoich wil take the popular press months to pick up.

    On the first and more detailed point, of course things like the Bundestag demands were important, but they were treated like a smoke screen. Copenhagen was a whitewash. The point is that the political elite had decided what was gouing to happen, viz. the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU and nothing, not facts certainly, was going to get in the way.

    The whole situation is different but analogous to the acceptance of Greece into the Eurozone, when even the Bundesbank said it was a daft idea due to the fact that everybody was aware that their books were not A point, but Bien cuit.

  3. Вихър Георгиев

    Speaking of Greece, you MUST read this if you haven’t yet.

    On the possible weakening of the Community method it all comes down to perspective: you may cherish the idea, while I find it quite worrying.

  4. Indeed,
    Funnily enough a Greek friend in the Parliament flagged it up to me when it came out. Quite an eye opening article.

  5. Pingback: What is Going on in Bulgaria, Really? | European Union Law

  6. Pingback: The (Un)Importance of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism | European Union Law

  7. Pingback: News Express  » Another Crack in the Edifice?

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