Romania says EU security is top priority

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Security of the EU is a top priority for Romania, the foreign ministry said Friday, a day after a French minister cited risks to security to back his country's veto on Bucharest's Schengen bid.

"The foreign ministry is concerned over the public statements made Thursday by the French Minister for European Affairs Laurent Wauquiez," a press release read.

"There is no real basis to justify such allegations," the ministry added.

During a press conference in Helsinki, Wauquiez said: "If the database of information for the Schengen area were to end up in the hands of international criminals, it could do away with all of European internal security."

He referred to the Schengen Information System (SIS), a vast reservoir of data on European citizens that is used for border control and national security.

But the Romanian ministry stressed the Balkan country had been connected to the SIS since early November. "No problems of the kind mentioned (by the French minister) have been recorded over this period," it said.

"Security of the European Union is a top priority to Romania" which has spent more than a billion euros in order to secure its borders in line with Schengen standards.

Romania and neighbouring Bulgaria were hoping to join the visa-free Schengen area in March 2011, making them the front line against immigrants from eastern Europe.

But France, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands have voiced their opposition, saying the deadline was "premature" as the two countries still had to make progress in the fight against corruption and organized crime.

© 2011 AFP

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