Daily Archives: September 13, 2011

Later this week the European Commission will put forward its plan to reform the passport-free Schengen area, as we detailed in our paper edition some weeks ago, and again today.

But its proposals won’t address what to do about Bulgaria and Romania, the two EU members who want to join Schengen but so far haven’t been allowed to.

Both countries have met the technical requirements to be part of Schengen, but existing members – led by France and Germany – say systemic corruption in the civil service are undermining border controls. An onerous “cooperation and verification mechanism” is meant to ensure steady improvement.

Diplomats are thinking creatively, however. One of the sticking points is that allowing Bulgaria and Romania into the pact would create a “land bridge” from Greece to mainland Schengen. (Greece currently has no land borders with other Schengen countries, and seeing as the Greek-Turkish border is the prime gateway for illegal migrants to come into Europe, losing the existing buffer is a problem.)

Poland, which is now handling the dossier as holder of the rotating EU presidency, has revived an idea to grant Schengen access to Romania and Bulgaria in two stages: keep passport controls for now on land and sea borders, but abolish them for air travel. Read more