The European Council summit - a new opportunity to discuss the Schengen theme

English Section / 25 octombrie 2023

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The situation in Ukraine, the revision of the European multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, the economic situation of the European Union and the issues regarding migration, are the main topics of the European Council meeting that will take place tomorrow and Thursday in Brussels. Since migration is the last item on the agenda before the Miscellaneous chapter, President Klaus Iohannis could bring back to the attention of European leaders the need for Romania's accession to the Schengen area and making a decision in this regard at the Justice and Internal Affairs Council meeting that will be held at the beginning of December.

Even if at this moment, due to the situation in Israel and Gaza and the terrorist threats from some member states of the European Union, there are countries that have reintroduced border controls, the subject of our country's accession to the Schengen area is a topical one, because next year , due to the European Parliament elections, it is hard to believe that any decision will be made on this matter.

At this moment, according to the social-democratic European deputy Victor Negrescu (PSD/Alianţa Socialistiţilor&Democraţil), four scenarios are outlined regarding our country's accession to the area of free movement of goods and people. In the first, Romania will receive a positive vote in December and enter the Schengen area. According to the second scenario, our country will receive a positive vote in December, but with the prospect of accession in the later period. In this case, either the accession will be done in two stages, or it is established that the effective accession will be done from January 2025, after the period of European parliamentary and national elections. The third scenario envisages postponing the vote on Schengen and re-discussing this topic in the course of 2024, which will lead to a deadlock due to the European Parliament elections. The last scenario refers to the veto rejection of our country's entry into the Schengen area, which would mean a new blockage and it could be considered that Romania would act accordingly, even by appealing the decision to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

According to Victor Negrescu, the strategy now focuses on the idea of convincing the Netherlands not to use its right of veto at the upcoming JAI council where the subject will be discussed, so that Austria remains alone and succumbs to pressure from the other member states .

It seems, however, that Austria no longer opposes our country's accession and believes that illegal migrants do not enter the EU from Romania, but states that the Schengen area must be strengthened.

The Minister of the Interior, Cătălin Predoiu, said on B1 TV, after the meeting of the JAI Council last week: It is true that a barometer of the Schengen Area was discussed within the JAI and, at Romania's request within the JAI CoReper prior to the JAI, there were reviewed the state of progress made by Romania and Bulgaria in combating illegal migration. It was unanimously appreciated that Romania achieved more than remarkable progress in the last months in combating illegal migration (...) The figures obtained by Romania in the last year were remarkable. All countries (including the commissioner, including Austria) noted that now there are no illegal migration problems with Romanians. So Romania has a very strong support at the moment".

According to the Minister of the Interior, Bulgaria, whose accession to Schengen is being discussed as a package with Romania's accession, is in a "more intense and applied dialogue with the Netherlands in relation to a number of reforms that they still need to make in the Judiciary in the next period, issues that for Romania no longer exist in discussion".

"Now Romania no longer has problems to discuss in terms of Justice or border control, because everyone agrees that we meet these criteria", stated Cătălin Predoiu, who added: "What is new is that within the JAI nor did Austria raise Romania's problem under the aspect of performance in combating illegal migration. It is true, Austria continued to mention that Schengen must be reformed, but in a moderate tone, without questioning the situation of our country".

We note that, before the meeting of the European Council, a meeting of the leaders of the European People's Party will take place in Brussels tomorrow. From the press release delivered to the Editor by the EPP, I noticed with surprise that, unlike on other occasions, the heads of state or government invited to the EPP summit do not include either President Klaus Iohannis or PNL President Nicolae Ciucă, who is and President of the Senate.

According to the press release, in addition to Ursula von der Leyen - the president of the European Commission - and Roberta Metsola - the president of the European Parliament, the following heads of state or government will participate in the EPP summit hosted by President Manfred Weber: Nikos Christodoulides (Cyprus), Ulf Kristersson (Sweden), Kyriakos Mitsotakis (Greece), Petteri Orpo (Finland), Andrej Plenkovic (Croatia), Evika Silina (Latvia) and Leo Varadkar (Ireland), as well as Deputy Prime Ministers Mariya Gabriel ( Bulgaria), Marian Jurecka (Czech Republic), Zsolt Semjen (Hungary), Antonio Tajani (Italy) and Vincent Van Peteghem (Belgium).

The only prominent member from Romania who will participate in this summit of the popular Europeans is the deputy Siegfried Mureşan (PNL), who is the vice-president of the EPP.

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