Coronavirus crisis reopens Schengen debate for Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria

Coronavirus crisis reopens Schengen debate for Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria
Coronavirus crisis reopens Schengen debate for Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Sandor Zsiros, Joanna Gill
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Long queues at borders have become a feature of travelling within the EU during the pandemic, but Romanian MEPs say it highlights the reality of travel from non-Schengen member states.

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Driving through Europe during a pandemic can mean long queues and strict border controls. 

Romanian MEP Dacian Ciolos recently filmed his 20-hour journey from Bucharest to Brussels.

The situation is slowly evolving. With new EU guidelines, many countries are seeking to re-open the frontiers, especially to boost the tourism industry. 

EU Vice-President Margaritis Schinas said the recommendations were very clear.

"There is no room for discrimination," he said. "Every measure has to be based on our guidelines, and has to be non-discriminatory in nature."

However, not all EU countries will have the same treatment. Three members lie outside the Schengen visa-free travel zone - Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

The coronavirus crisis, gave Schengen members a taste of the harsh reality of travelling from non-Schengen countries, according to Romanian MEP Dragoș Tudorache (RENEW).

"What has been happening over the last two months for all EU citizens, has been happening for the citizens of Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia for the last 12 years, 13 years."

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but rule of law concerns have plagued their progress. Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013, passed through to the next steps in the process, with the Commission commending them in October 2019.

Tudorache is asking for a political message, a sign, that those on the Schengen waiting list can be considered for admission.

While the European Parliament and the Commission think Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are technically ready to join, some member states, such as France and the Netherlands are not ready to admit them.

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