France, Germany stop Bulgaria, Romania joining Schengen

21st December 2010, Comments 0 comments

France and Germany have decided to block Bulgaria and Romania from joining Europe's passport-free 25-nation Schengen travel area next year, a European Commission spokesman said Tuesday.

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux and German counterpart Thomas de Maiziere told the European Commission in a letter that it was "premature" to let them enter Schengen in March 2011, said spokesman Michele Cercone.

Allowing a country to join Schengen must be agreed by members states by unanimity.

In their letter to European home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, the two ministers cited shortcomings in efforts by Bulgaria and Romania to battle corruption and organised crime, Cercone said.

Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007.

The Schengen area includes 22 of the EU's 27 members plus Iceland, Switzerland and Norway.

© 2010 AFP

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