Dutch PM in Romania on Romania’s joining Schengen: “I can’t give you a deadline”

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President Klaus Iohannis stated on Wednesday, after a visit with Mark Rutte and Nicolae Ciucă to the Cincu military base, that he conveyed to the Dutch prime minister Romania’s “legitimate expectation” to join the Schengen area. “I’m optimistic,” said Klaus Iohannis, specifying, however, that he doesn’t want to make “an extremely optimistic statement about the duration.”

In his turn, Mark Rutte said that the Netherlands “is not against it as a general rule”. Asked if he could agree to Romania’s accession this year, the Dutch prime minister said that “I can’t give you a deadline”.

“The Netherlands is not against as a general rule. We say that all countries that meet the conditions must enter the Schengen area. Romania has taken many steps forward in recent years. All conditions must be met. We also have a cooperation and verification mechanism. The next steps will come and after that we will talk further. (…) The Netherlands is not opposed, but we have to do it (adherence) in a transparent and fair manner. We need to have enough positive steps and we need to have a better rule of law. Many steps have been taken, which must now be laid down in the MCV, the corruption laws. The second thing, the Schengen computer system. The commission has started the procedures, I think the evaluation mission must be deeper and I don’t know when the results will come. I can’t give you a deadline“, said Mark Rutte, when asked if Romania could be accepted into the Schengen area this year.

President Klaus Iohannis stated that the accession of our country depends on technical aspects but also on a political vote. “I have not given any deadline, nor do I intend to”, said the head of state.

“We discussed Romania’s legitimate expectation to join the Schengen area. We reiterated all the arguments for our accession. It is not only necessary, but also extremely timely. Romania meets the technical requirements and acts as a de facto member for the protection of the Union’s borders. We are an integral part of the reform of the Schengen area. Romania’s accession will contribute to the security and consolidation of the Schengen area, as we have proven with the management of the 2.5 million Ukrainian citizens who crossed the border. I hope that the political conditions for Romania’s accession will be met, in a context where the consolidation of the Schengen area as a whole is particularly important. (…) I intentionally said both technical conditions and political conditions. Entry into Schengen has two parts, the procedural part to be consistent with all EU partners. However, the technical process is not the end. The final is a vote in a The Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) format. That’s where you vote. And the rule for the JHA format is consensus, meaning everyone must agree. The vote in the JHA is a vote that has a strong political component. That’s not bad. This is how the Union works. But for it to be a unanimous vote, we have to convince everyone that the rules are being met. A political vote is not negative at all, in the end, in a democracy, one votes. We don’t want to go into the JHA board uninformed and have discussions that can very easily go on a negative note. That’s why I didn’t give any deadline, nor do I intend to give one, because the national objection is not to give a vote by date X, but to enter Schengen”, Iohannis said.

The visit of the Dutch prime minister to Romania takes place in the context in which our country requests accession to the Schengen area, the Netherlands being the only EU country that still opposes it. Rutte’s visit comes two months before a decisive vote in the JAI Council for Romania’s eventual accession to the Schengen Area.

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