ROMANIA MONITOR

Date: 25 October 2018

Juncker Warns, Iohannis Assures about the Willingness for Further Integration

The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker warned that Romania’s accession to the Schengen zone depended on respecting the rule of law by this country. President Klaus Iohannis referred to these words almost immediately saying that the unity of the European Union was based on common values which helped the Union to handle previous crises.

SOURCE: PRESIDENCY.RO

Jean-Claude Juncker assured that he was not indifferent to the future of Romania. However, in his speech during the meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, he said that he had concerns about the accession of this country to the Schengen zone. It depends on whether the Romanian government will obey the rule of law. The President of the European Union is even more worried by the current situation as in January 2019, Romania is to take over the presidency of the EU.

Juncker stressed that he counted on the improvement of the current situation. He meant, among others, the recent report of the Venice Commission which pointed to the hurried and unfinished reforms of justice. The President of the European Commission expressed his hope that Romania would take the right direction which would result in its accession to the Schengen zone yet during his term, which lasts until the end of 2019.

The speech of Jean-Claude Juncker did not remain unnoticed. Klaus Iohannis, who was visiting the European Parliament as well, reacted almost immediately. The President of Romania underlined the attachment of his country to the idea of the European Union and declared the willingness for further integration. He assessed that countries of the Union shared similar values which had helped to handle different crises in the past – from financial, to the one concerning immigrants.
Even though the speech of Klaus Iohannis was complimentary about the EU, it did not include anything concrete. The President of Romania admitted, among others, that one of the most important aims of his country is to access to the euro zone. But at this moment, there are no chances of Romania’s accession, and both in the media and among politicians there is a prevailing belief that such a decision should be postponed to the indefinite future.
During his last speech, Klaus Iohannis assessed that the accession of Romania to the Schengen zone is an “important aim”. But yet in December last year, the President suggested that for him the common currency was more important. And despite the fact that the President of the European Commission takes into consideration the accession of Romania to the Schengen zone until the end of 2019, neither this situation, nor the common currency will happen soon.

Currently, the Schengen zone includes twenty-six European countries. When it comes to the members of the European Union, only Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are outside the zone. In order to access the zone, every country has to regulate the issues connected with the border control, the visa system, the work of services and data protection. At first, it was assumed that Romania (similarly as Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus) would enter the Schengen zone in 2012, which was five years after the accession to the European Union. However, Finland, the Netherlands and Germany were against. Finally, in October 2017, the European Parliament voted through the accession of Bulgaria and Romania. Will Romania enter the Schengen zone until 2019 as Jean-Claude Juncker wishes for? It depends majorly on the relation between the Romanian government and authorities of the European Union.

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