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Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel area will not open up to Bulgaria and Romania as soon as they had hoped.

France and Germany have cited concerns over border management and asylum policy, and told the European Commission that this would be premature.

Next March had been the two poorest EU members’ window of opportunity.

The Schengen area includes 22 of the EU’s 27 members plus Iceland, Switzerland and Norway, and eliminates all internal border controls between them, while strengthening these with non-member states.

Paris and Berlin also said the two countries, which joined the EU in 2007, and whose judicial systems are undergoing reform, have not done enough to reduce corruption and fight organised crime.

A country may only join Schengen if all the signatories agree.

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