Romania on track for March 2011 Schengen entry: president

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Romania said Thursday that its entry into Europe's Schengen visa-free zone was on track for next spring, despite a call from France for a delay pending progress reports on key reforms.

"I can tell you that (on Wednesday) neither France, the Netherlands or Germany opposed the transmission to the European parliament of a decision in favour of our entry," said President Traian Basescu, referring to one of the stages in the entry process.

Basescu was speaking after a warning late Wednesday by French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Pierre Lellouche, who urged EU members to hold off on their decision to let Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen area.

Entry is scheduled to take place in March next year, but Lellouche said this should be delayed until the completion of EU progress reports on internal affairs and judiciary reforms.

Earlier Thursday, Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov said the country would meet technical requirements for the slated March entry, but was aware that the political environment in Europe may lead to a delay.

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 and the Netherlands have pushed for Romania's entry into the zone to be linked to progress on judicial reforms and anti-corruption efforts.

© 2010 AFP

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