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News 10 Jan 13

Dutch Likely to Block Bulgarian, Romanian Schengen Bids

The Netherlands is likely again to block the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU's passport-free Schengen area, if the issue comes up in March.

Novinite.com
Sofia

Diplomats in the European Commission have told Bulgaria's Focus news agency that expansion of the passport-free Schengen area may not feature on the agenda of the next Justice and Home Affairs Council in March.

If it does, sources say The Netherlands is likely to again veto the accession of Bulgaria and Romania on the grounds that they have not undertaken sufficient reforms in the fight against corruption and organised crime.

According to reports, the Dutch fear that recent political tensions situation in Romania may especially slow reforms in that country.

At the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg in October 2012, discussion of the Schengen bids of Bulgaria and Romania was postponed until March 2013.

The Council in March will take place under the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Bulgaria and Romania have said they expect at least partial accession to the EU's passport-free zone in 2013 through the opening of air and maritime borders.

But even this may could probe problematic, as Germany and Belgium have lately also started echoing the opposition of the Dutch government to Schengen expansion.

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