Hungary supports Bulgaria's, Romania's Schengen bids

14th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Hungary, the EU's current president, said Friday it supported bids by Bulgaria and Romania to join Europe's borderless 25-nation Schengen zone, despite French and German opposition.

"We continue to support Bulgaria and Romania joining Schengen," Budapest's state secretary for European affairs, Eniko Gyory, said after an informal meeting with her EU counterparts here.

"Once the two countries have fulfilled all the conditions, membership will no longer be a problem," she told reporters at the Godollo castle outside Budapest.

A meeting of experts was scheduled to take place on the matter on Friday in Brussels, Gyory said.

"Let's see what the experts say."

Although the two most recent EU members have declared Schengen accession a national priority this year, Bucharest and Sofia look set to fail in their membership bids in March, with more than a dozen EU governments opposed.

Berlin and Paris have said that a decision on the applications would be made once the two former communist bloc nations make "irreversible progress" in the fight against corruption, a criterion still to be defined.

The borderless Schengen zone allows more than 400 million citizens of 25 member countries to move freely without a border controls from Finland to Greece and from Portugal to Poland.

At the first informal meeting hosted by the Hungarian EU presidency, delegations discussed the bloc's priorities over the coming six months, from energy security to Croatia's EU membership and integration of the Roma.

A meeting of heads of government on energy and innovation is scheduled to be held in Brussels on February 4.

© 2011 AFP

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