Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- European Union President Herman Van Rompuy said Bulgaria and Romania have met the conditions to join the Schengen passport-free travel zone and he will propose talks on their accession at an EU summit in March.
The European Parliament in Strasbourg endorsed the two Black Sea countries’ bids on June 8, 2011, while the bloc’s Justice and Home Affairs Ministers Council postponed their admission on the next day urging them to do more to overcome crime and corruption. The two nations joined the EU in 2007.
“My position is very clear,” Rompuy told reporters after meeting Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev in Brussels today. “Since it has been confirmed by all member states that both countries fulfill the technical Schengen criteria for accession, the council should take his decision as soon as possible.”
Rompuy said he “is ready to put this topic on the agenda of the March European Council again, in case no decision is taken until then.” The summit takes place on March 1-2 in Brussels.
Countries hoping to join the Schengen system, named for the Luxembourg village where the treaty allowing border-free travel was signed in 1985, need the unanimous endorsement of existing members, based on an assessment by the commission. The Netherlands have delayed Bulgaria’s and Romania’s Schengen bid until they do more to ensure the rule of law.
The two former Soviet-bloc countries spent 1.16 billion euros ($1.53 billion) to beef up their border police and equip them with patrol boats, helicopters, scanners and night-vision cameras to ensure the security of borders with Turkey, Serbia, Moldova and Ukraine and a stretch of the Black Sea coast.
--With assistance from Jones Hayden in Brussels. Editors: Alan Crosby, Leon Mangasarian
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