Immigration: Romania’s Schengen Accession in Jeopardy Over Rule of Law

Immigration: Romania’s Schengen Accession in Jeopardy Over Rule of Law

Did immigration issues drive us to Brexit? What is the word on the streets right now?

Romania - Schengen AreaThe much sought after Schengen accession is in jeopardy for Romania after the European Union threatened its highest institutions and officials to take legal steps over the rule of law.

The European Commission warned Romania on Monday that it should reverse the measures that undermine the independence of its court and the fight against corruption, or else in the EU would have to take legal action against the country, as triggering Article 7 of the EU treaties.

According to the spokesperson of the Commission Margaritis Schinas, the First Vice President of the Commission Frans Timmermans sent a warning letter to the government of Bucharest, last Friday. The letter was sent to the Romanian president, prime minister and the presidents of both chambers of the parliament.

“The main concerns relate to developments interfering with judicial independence and the effective fight against corruption, including the protection of financial interests of the EU and particularly to the recently adopted amendments to the criminal code that create a de facto impunity for crimes,” spokesman Schinas said.

The main concerns of the European Commission regarding Romania are related to several amendments and bills introduced by the ruling Social Democrats in Romania, as the recent amendments to the Criminal code, which risk creating a de facto impunity for high-ranking officials.

Schinas also explained what would happen in case Romania did not take any further steps to change its situation.

If the necessary improvements are not made, or if further negative steps are taken, such as the promulgation of the amendments to the Criminal Code, the Commission will trigger the Rule of Law framework without delay, and will suspend the Cooperation and Verification mechanism,” Schinas confirmed.

The Cooperation and Verification mechanism is a transitional measure, which was set up to assist Romania in making progress in the fields of judicial reform and corruption. The suspension of the CVM is Romania’s goal, but without replacing it with something like the Article 7 procedure. If the EU triggers the Article 7 procedure, that means Romania will make several steps backward in its bid to join the Schengen Area.

The letters of Timmermans come just a few days after the Dutch PM Mark Rutte said during the EU summit in Sibiu that Romania would be ready to join the Schengen territory “when it complies with the rule of law and democracy”, estimating that the country is not going in the right direction for now.

The comments sparked reactions among Romanian officials, including the Romanian Ambassador to Germany Emil Hurezeanu who assessed that Romania would partially join the Schengen Area with its airports this year.

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