Romania could join the borderless Schengen Zone this year subject to the the approval of the European Commission which has stopped the East European country joining over rule of law concerns.
Prime Minister Florin Citu said he hoped the upcoming Cooperation and Verification Mechanism report would be favorable thereby removing obstacles for Bucharest to join the visa-free area of 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders, news channel Digi24 reported.
“Romania has been ready to join Schengen since 2011,” he said late Thursday, despite concerns in the report.
“We must correct this problem this year. We will do our best to have a favorable ….report. If all goes well, and we have already started” by scrapping the special unit to investigate magistrates ….. “we can hope to continue the Schengen accession talks this year,” the prime minister added.
“I repeat, it depends on us. We are correcting what the Social Democrats ruined in the judicial overhaul and then you will see, it will be fast forward to Schengen.”
Four members EU states currently lie outside the Schengen visa-free travel zone – Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus.
Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but rule of law concerns have plagued their progress. Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013, passed through to the next steps in the process, with the European Commission commending them in October 2019.
The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism is a transitional measure to assist Romania and Bulgaria remedy these shortcomings.
The country has been seeking to be part of the borderless area since June 2011.
Some EU member states such as France and the Netherlands have opposed Romania’s accession to the Schengen Zone, due to “the rule of law concerns“.
The prime minister, a US-educated banker, also addressed the issue of the single European currency which he said Romania could adopt in 2027 or 2028.
“The path for the euro has been delayed by the crisis of 2020,” he said, adding there would be a full recovery between 2021 and 2024,.
“The goal of joining the eurozone is also an obligation for Romania…. (but) it is difficult to discuss joining the eurozone during an economic crisis,” he said.