The Netherlands and Finland on Thursday blocked Bulgaria and Romania from joining the EU’s passport free area, saying neither country had done enough to combat corruption.
‘Our position is clear. We are not in favour of an accession at this moment,’ said Dutch immigration minister Gerd Leers.
The two countries joined the EU in 2007. Joining the Schengen zone would make the two countries responsible for policing a large part of the EU border.
‘Imagine you have a door with eight of the best locks of the world. But before that door is standing someone who lets everybody in, then you have a problem,’ Leers was quoted as saying.
The Dutch and Finnish position was criticized by other central and Eastern European countries.
‘Two member states made it impossible for us to make a decision on Schengen enlargement … I think today we forgot that European ideas are important,’ the Financial Times quoted Jerzy Miller, the interior minister of Poland, as saying. Poland currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency.
Meanwhile, the import ban imposed by Romania on Dutch flowers and bulbs appears to have been lifted, according to reports. Some accused Romania of imposing the ban in retaliation at Leer’s statement last week in which he said the Schengen deal would be vetoed.
Despite EU membership, Romanian and Bulgarian nationals are not allowed to work in the Netherlands without a work permit either.
According to some reports, Romania has accused the Netherlands of being held hostage by the far right – a reference to Geert Wilder’s PVV party which campaigns against EU expansion.