Romanian PM: Schengen remains ‘national strategic objective’ despite ‘no’ vote

Foto: INQUAM / George Călin

Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca on Thursday said that Schengen remains a ‘national strategic objective’ and called Austria ‘inflexible’ after it voted against admitting the country.

Austria’s decision is “fundamentally based on figures which Romania proved were false,’ he said after the vote in Brussels.

“We regret (the outcome) and don’t understand Austria’s inflexible position,” adding that Bucharest had worked “intensely” with the European Commission to overcome doubts about Romania’s bid.

The negative conclusion is a political defeat for both Romania and Bulgaria which also failed to be admitted. The two southeastern countries joined EU years before Croatia which on Thursday got the green light to join the passport-free zone as of Jan. 2023.

Austria’s opposition only emerged in recent weeks, is based on a new influx of asylum-seekers through the Western Balkan route—something which Romania disputes.

Ciuca said the decision came “in the difficult context of the war,” in Ukraine.

Romanian political and business leaders argue that Schengen is in Europe’s interest after the Russian invasion destabilized the region. Romania is also a member of NATO.

Social Democrat leader Marcel Ciolacu put it more bluntly, calling the outcome „a free Christmas gift for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”




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