Bulgaria and Romania excluded from 'borderless' EU travel zone
The European Union decided yesterday to keep Bulgaria and Romania out of its borderless travel zone for now, even though the two EU nations have met the required technical standards.
The move by EU interior ministers came amid increasing fears of illegal immigration and crime across the continent and put further pressure on the Schengen system of unfettered travel across 26 European nations.
"What worries a number of member states is corruption may thrive in these countries and thus can weaken the protection of the borders," French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said of Romania and Bulgaria. He proposed a system of putting EU officials alongside national border guards as an extra check.
The borderless travel system has already been hurt by Denmark's plan to restore customs checks and a public spat between Italy and France over thousands of Tunisian refugees flooding across the Mediterranean Sea over the past months.
Germany criticised Denmark yesterday for "coldly undermining" one of the cornerstones of EU unity.
Along with the establishment of the euro currency, the Schengen zone is generally seen as one of the most important EU achievements.