Finland and the Netherlands have vetoed Romania and Bulgaria’s entry into the passport-free Schengen travel zone. The two Balkan countries met all the technical criteria for admittance, according to seven evaluation reports by the Schengen work group cited in a European Parliament report this June.
A NY Times article quoted Gerd Leers, the Dutch immigration minister on the Schengen area entry, as saying, “It is also a matter of trust and confidence that our collective external borders will be safe and secure… At the moment, it is clear that there are still significant shortcomings in the field of anticorruption and the fight against organized crime.” In response to the decision, the Dutch business community in Romania expressed its support for Romania’s joining the bloc.
“Romania’s accession in the Schengen zone will be beneficial both for the free movement of individuals, as well as for the flow of goods. It will therefore facilitate intra-community trade and could stimulate Romania’s attractiveness for foreign direct investments in sectors such as production, assembly, transport and logistics.
The Netherlands is already the largest foreign investor in Romania and we believe that Romania’s entry into the Schengen area will also be in the interest of the Dutch business community, leading to the further development of trade between our two countries,” said Peter de Ruiter, president of the Netherlands-Romanian Chamber of Commerce (NRCC).
“Our organization has always pointed out to the Dutch officials, as well as to major Dutch investors, the enormous economic opportunities that Romania presents. […] We believe that it will be in the interest of everybody for the authorities in The Hague to heed our call,” said Richard Reese, Executive Director of the NRCC.
“Although we agree with the fact that the Romanian authorities are entitled to step up their activities against tax evasion and cross-border criminality, we believe that all controls made by the Romanian authorities should be non-discriminatory and should not target any specific industry or business community,” de Ruiter added.
Germany and France have suggested two-step scenarios for Romania and Bulgaria’s accession. First, the air and sea borders will be included in the Schengen area this October, while the second phase will include the land borders, by July 2012, according to sources quoted by Agerpres newswire.
Last week, the Romanian Fiscal Agency (ANAF) seized 13 trucks containing flowers, bulbs and seeds from Holland. Another three trucks were returned to Dutch suppliers. It was claimed that flowers in the transports harbored a mysterious bacteria. Samples were removed for testing by the Romanian authorities and the laboratory results are expected in the coming days.