By Daniel Stroe – Bucharest
Both Italy and Spain underlined yesterday Romania and Bulgaria fully comply with the Schengen accession criteria, putting France in an awkward position after Paris has recently raised the immigration issue as an argument against the two countries’ objective to join the borderless area.
“Spain has supported Romania’s accession to the Schengen area and will continue to do so because, as it has always said, Romania complies with the technical criteria that have been set as conditions for the access” the Spanish embassy in Bucharest said as quoted by Hotnews.
The Spanish government also “firmly rejects the attempts to associate Romania’s accession to the social integration of the Roma community because a social disfavored group cannot turn into a scapegoat for a state policy” the embassy added, referring to France’s recent position in which it argued the Roma immigration is an obstacle in Romania and Bulgaria’s accession efforts.
The Spanish embassy’s position comes after a French newspaper maintained Spain is among the EU countries that reject the country’s Schengen accession.
At the same time, the Italian embassy in Bucharest pointed out Romania has fulfilled all the criteria for joining the Schengen area and the country should be granted access to the borderless area. “The position of the Italian Government is that Romania should be granted full access to the Schengen system. Moreover, Italy considers the Romanian authorities have fully and successfully met all the technical conditions for the accession” the embassy answered a request coming from Mediafax.
The two countries’ positions are even more important since they host the largest Romanian communities in Western Europe and, theoretically, should have invoked the same reasons France has come up with in its attempt to block Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession. But France is going through a pre-electoral time and uses the Roma nomads as means to reap electoral benefits despite criticism coming from the outside.
With great pressure coming from the mayors in the territory, the French government is unlikely to change its position before next March when local elections are held in France. With a weak performance on the domestic political landscape, the ruling socialists hope to divert the attention by focusing on a problem which will not go away if Romania and Bulgaria are denied accession to the Schengen area. Already in the EU, the citizens of the two countries can freely travel and settle and, as of January 2014, work in any of the other 26 member states.