The European Parliament members have given the green light for the accession of Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen Zone, in a plenary session on December 11. With a majority of votes, the EP members approved a call for the swift admission of both EU countries into the borderless EU area.
According to a press release of the European Parliament, the MEPs called on the EU Council to take a swift and affirmative decision, adopting the non-legislative report by 514 votes to 107, with 38 abstentions.
It also objected the idea of a two-phase accession, demanding a decision taken in the form of a single legal act.
“A two-step approach – first ending checks at internal sea and air borders, followed by stopping checks at internal land borders – would pose a number of risks and could negatively impact the future enlargement of the Schengen area,” the press release reads.
Sergey Stanishev, the EU rapporteur on the issue who is also a former Bulgarian prime minister, pointed out that the Parliament categorically rejects partial accession.
“Today the Parliament went beyond its repeated calls for immediate accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area by insisting on full accession with all borders – land, maritime and air. We categorically reject partial accession, as it not only lacks any legally sound justification, but also entails a number of economic, social and political downsides for the whole EU,” rapporteur Stanishev said.
The EU Parliament first concluded that Bulgaria and Romania were ready to join the Schengen Area in June 2011. However, both countries have faced difficulties to join the borderless zone due to several Schengen countries that claimed there was still work to be done for the accession process to be completed.
The European Council is the body responsible to give the final decision on the issue. All EC members must vote pro in order for Romania and Bulgaria to join Schengen.