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MEPs Claim Austria Under Pressure Over Romania’s, Bulgaria’s, Schengen Bids

Romanian MEPs claim the Austrian government is under pressure to allow the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area, after the European Parliament passed a resolution against Austria for vetoing the accession of the two countries.

“It’s a strong political pressure because deputies from Austria also voted for this resolution. It is a first when MEPs from a country [Austria] targeted by a resolution support a European political approach because they disagree with the approach of the government in Vienna,” Romanian MEP Eugen Tomac told BIRN.

He believes this message cannot pass without echoes.

“It remains to be seen whether this pressure is strong enough for Vienna, or whether it will be turned into a matter of domestic politics, given that next year there will be parliamentary elections all over Europe,” added Tomac.

The resolution passed on Wednesday in Brussels by about 80 per cent of MEPs said Austria’s veto had created an anti-European feeling and,that its December 2022 veto had caused significant damage both to the economy of Romania and Bulgaria and to the climate, given the massive pollution on the borders, where millions of cars wait for hours at the controls.

The resolution gathered 526 votes “for”, 57 “against”, and 42 abstentions from members of the European Parliament.

In his last visit to Bucharest on April 26, the Austrian Interior Minister, Gerhard Karner, said the Romanian border protection system is non-functional and that he cannot “offer” a date for Romania’s accession to the passport-free area.

The resolution also asks the EC to estimate the costs and environmental damage that Romania and Bulgaria have suffered since June 2011 due to the “unjustified refusal” to let them join Schengen, and to look at the possibilities of financial compensation.

The resolution said citizens of Bulgaria and Romania are discriminated against, as they face delays, bureaucratic difficulties and additional costs when travelling or doing business abroad, compared to their counterparts in the Schengen area.

Romanian MEP Siegfried Muresan declared that Romania has been deemed ready for 12 years to join Schengen.

“For 12 years, the European Parliament has asked us to be integrated into the Schengen area precisely because we are ready … The Austrian government cites problems with migration that Romania did not cause but which we want to solve. Thus, important measures have been taken in recent months at the European level to manage migration problems on the continent,” he added.

Technically, Romania had been considered ready for more than 12 years to enter Schengen. But a political decision of all member states has kept the country out of Schengen, triggering dissatisfaction and euroscepticism in Romania and encouraging Russian propaganda narratives.

Source : Balkan Insight

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