Lies and propaganda: Romania and Schengen

On Thursday, Austria rejected the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area by veto, citing the issue of almost 100,00 illegal migrants on its territory. The Austrian Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior claimed that these migrants entered their country via the Balkan route, including through Bulgaria and Romania. The Bucharest government attempted to prove, citing official data provided by Union institutions, that the number of migrants from Romania is insignificant, below 2%, and that migrants are a false argument, a lie, at least in the case of Romania.

A blatant lie, a sinister exaggeration? Very possible. But the hundred thousand migrants from Austria represent an indisputable truth. They are there, and somehow they have arrived in such large numbers in a small country like Austria that they have become a big political problem, especially in the run-up to elections. An additional reason for Vienna to insistently ask Brussels for a set of measures to reform the Schengen surveillance system and, above all, a fair distribution of migrants in other member states.

Only two days ago, at the very last moment, under the infernal pressure of Vienna, Brussels hastened to adopt the plan requested by Austria to combat illegal migration on the Western Balkans route. Hungary, with a virulent anti-migrant policy, turns them in to its Austrian neighbors without many scruples, as it catches them. I wouldn’t bet on Romania either, if we look at the mass corruption in customs in the west of the country, at the migrant trafficking files taken to Austria with the complicity of some politically parachuted customs chiefs, files orchestrated by DIICOT and sent to judgment.

As much as Austrian Prime Minister Karl Nehammer might be demonized in Romania, the fact that he defends his country’s interests to the end is, to a point, understandable, perfectly justified. What would Romania have done if it found itself with 100,000 migrants from Africa or the Middle East on its territory, not in transit for a few days to the West, as is the case with the several tens of thousands of refugees from Ukraine, but determined to stay?

The methods used by Vienna are undoubtedly reprehensible, scandalous, but no less revolting than the cynicism with which Germany or France, for example, break European solidarity in the case of sanctioning Hungary or in terms of how they stood in regards to Russia until the start of the invasion of Ukraine. Big nations with imperial nostalgia don’t seem to place much value on unity and solidarity. They have already proven so many times that they behave extremely selfishly in major moments that they pursue their interest by sacrificing, that is to say, without much nervousness, the interests of small nations.

Austria’s selfishness hides this sad truth: EU unity is a nice slogan, a wonderful slogan, but some European states are ferociously pursuing only their own interest. Did Vienna play Russia’s games by using its right of veto to weaken EU cohesion at the expense of possible economic advantages negotiated in Moscow by Prime Minister Nehammer? This is what the EPP leader and other Romanian politicians suggested, but there is no evidence that Vienna was piloted by Russia on the Schengen extension file.

We must not forget, however, that until a few days ago, the Netherlands and Sweden were also opposing the admission of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area, making internal use the false argument that these countries, once left in the free movement area, will deliver cohorts of migrants. The cohorts of Romanian or Bulgarian migrants are already there. Were the Dutch or Swedes also manipulated by the Russians? Not likely. The opposition of the Nordics to the Schengen expansion was based, at the time, on another propagandistic lie also launched from purely electoral calculations. So let’s not underestimate the temptation of extreme populism when it comes to such sensitive topics in Europe, such as illegal migration.

Romania itself, completely helped by Brussels, participated in these weeks in a festival of lies and propaganda, taken to unimaginable heights. Who would have thought, however, that the experts of the European Commission would make not one, but two technical reports in which they will write clear as day that Romania fulfills all the technical conditions for accession to Schengen and that the Romanian customs are „state of the art”. Corruption, incompetence and chaos disappeared overnight from Romanian customs. These were no longer recorded in the Brussels papers, but overlooked following political arrangements.

These official documents of the European Commission, the reports regarding the fulfillment of the technical conditions, were strong arguments used by Romania in Brussels. „We did our job, others have something against us”, shouted the government in a single voice, accompanied by almost all the media in Romania. We all know that it is not quite the case, and I admit in private that Romania, a deeply corrupt country with a dysfunctional justice system, is out of place in Schengen. In passing, let it be said, it is difficult to follow the hysterical news on the Schengen topic, transformed into the government’s blasting horns, into the propagandists of „national interest”.

Compliance with technical requirements is a half-truth, not to mention a well-dressed lie. has already shown what did not appear in the laudatory reports of the European Commission on the Schengen file, gross state cases with non-functional institutions simply hidden under a blanket.

Once the festival of lies and propaganda began, anyone who dared to say or suggest otherwise, to raise a series of perfectly legitimate issues, was accused of treason. This is what happened in the case of, which was blocked because it did not get caught up in the propaganda dance and thus undermined the national goal, accession to Schengen.

Maybe it would have been a good thing for Romania to enter Schengen, even so, kidding ourselves that we’re okay. It wouldn’t be the first time that Brussels lies to itself and turns a blind eye. We joined the EU in 2007 even though we didn’t deserve it then either, but it turns out that it’s better to join select clubs when the planets align than to be left out. Only this time it seems like everyone lied too much, and nothing healthy can be built on a lie. The lies of Brussels and Romania were simply rejected by Austria with other lies.

The European Union, the trust in its institutions and the solidarity between the member states are built, however, with a little more political honesty.

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