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Romania's accession to Schengen, off JHA Council meeting agenda despite being called priority

Consiliul JAI

Romania's accession to Schengen, off JHA Council meeting agenda despite being called priority.

Romania's accession to the Schengen area will not feature on the agenda of the last Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) meeting under the Swedish presidency of the EU on June 8 and 9 in Luxembourg, although in a recent reply to a Romanian MEP the European Commission gave assurances that the problem remains a priority with the commission and that it will do everything within its power to make sure that a favourable decision is taken in 2023, told Agerpres.

At the JHA Council meeting on Thursday, the Schengen Council will discuss the overall state of the Schengen area on the basis of the European Commission's State of Schengen Report 2023. The Council will also define priorities for the Schengen area for the next 12 months and discuss the monitoring of visa-free regimes.

For these discussions the Schengen Council meets in the so-called mixed committee format which includes the EU member states plus the 4 non-EU countries that are part of the Schengen agreement (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland).

Practically, it becomes a certainty that Romania will not get a decision on its accession to the Schengen area not even at the second JHA Council meeting under the Swedish presidency of the EU, which makes the only remaining opportunities in 2023 to be two meetings of the home ministers under the Spanish presidency of the EU Council that starts on July 1.

At the same time, as Romania's Foreign Minister would say in the past, the main issue for the expansion of the Schengen area to include Romania and Bulgaria is one of political agreement, which can happen at any time at the level of the JHA Council after negotiations between the interested parties followed by a vote in other formats than the JHA Council or even in an extraordinary meeting of the home ministers.

On the other hand, the European Commission continues to give assurances that the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to Schengen area in 2023 remains a priority, and the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson has repeatedly stated that she will do everything possible to win a favourable decision in 2023.

The countries that voted against the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area at a December 2022 JHA Council meeting were Austria and the Netherlands, with the Netherlands making it clear that it only opposes the accession of Bulgaria. Austria then claimed that most of the tens of thousands of unregistered asylum seekers arriving on its territory had previously transited through Romania and Bulgaria.


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