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Romania ‘could join Schengen as early as next year’

If the Romanian government gets its way, it seems that those who apply for a Schengen visa may have another country that they can use their visa to visit as soon as 2018.

As reported by the Daily Express, Romania is urging EU leaders to hold a vote on its hopes to become a member of the bloc’s passport-less Schengen zone. Romania and neighbouring Bulgaria have expressed their wish to join the border-free scheme at the earliest opportunity.

Romania’s European affairs minister Victor Negrescu has said that the two countries now require a decision from other member states over what has now become a decade-long saga.

Rest of EU accused of ‘protectionism’ over impasse

Both countries are becoming frustrated by what they regard as protectionism from other EU nations, aimed at preventing the eastward relocation of big companies.

While EU leaders have said that Romania and Bulgaria satisfy the criteria for membership of the passport-less zone, a number of member states have blocked their accession, arguing that it could be exploited by organised criminal gangs active in the two countries.

There have been complaints from Romanian ministers that member states have been blaming each other for blocking the country’s passage into the Schengen area.

“We don’t know why we should not be there”

Negrescu commented: “We simply have to take a decision. Everyone tells us that we should discuss with another country, and we don’t know with whom to discuss. We don’t know why we should not be there.”

He said that Romania anticipated a “very frank discussion” with other member states about the prospect of the country joining the zone next year, adding that “maybe a vote should happen”.

The minister delegate described Austria’s six-month spell hosting the EU presidency in the second half of 2018 as “an excellent occasion to put the issue to the table” and “a moment when a decision should be taken.”

A “very sensitive issue” for some member states

President of the EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, stated in his State of the Union speech in September that Romania and Bulgaria should become members of the borderless zone “immediately”.

However, fears have been voiced by the two countries’ officials that they have been denied the chance to join Schengen by Western nations anxious to avoid a mass relocation of companies to the two lowest-cost European economies.

One official said that the two countries entering Schengen was a “very sensitive issue” for some member states, and that there was a “certain reluctance” from other nations to “open up”.

The transportation of Romanian-produced goods to Germany presently takes up to a week, but this could be slashed to just 20 hours in the event of the country joining Schengen.

Turn to Documents and Visas for assistance when you wish to apply for a Schengen visa that will enable you to travel with ease across all 26 European states within the Schengen area.