Romania, Bulgaria not ready to enter Schengen: France

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France reiterated Wednesday that it believed that Romania and Bulgaria were not ready to the join the European visa-free Schengen travel zone, citing poor border and immigration controls.

European Affairs Minister Laurent Wauquiez told parliament that France refused to become involved in the "weakening of our borders and the capacity of Europe to manage and control its flow of migrants".

"What France says is very simple, that it is well understood that Romania and Bulgaria do not have a closed door," he said.

Romania, for example, did not recognise its border with Moldova with migrants flowing across the frontier.

But it was basic that "we have to be sure of our borders," Wauquiez said.

"We recognise a border with Moldova: so it is a problem which is an obstacle at the moment to Romania and Bulgaria entering in the Schengen zone," he said.

"If we trust them with our borders, it is justifiable that we could expect all guarantees that the borders are well guarded with enough customs officers to exercise all the vigilance that we have a right to expect," he said.

"Today that is not the case," Wauquiez said. "At the moment, the work is not satisfactory," he said, citing problems with corruption.

The Schengen Agreement, named after the Luxembourg town where it was initiated, creates a borderless zone encompassing almost all EU countries bar Britain, Ireland and Cyprus.

France does not want a European decision on the entry of Romania and neighbouring Bulgaria into the Schengen area to be taken before around June next year, and certainly not in March as the two countries are hoping.

France and The Netherlands insist on linking the entry date to progress on judicial reforms and anti-corruption efforts.

© 2010 AFP

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