De Jong: Time still not ripe for open borders with Romania and Bulgaria

20 July 2011

De Jong: Time still not ripe for open borders with Romania and Bulgaria

The European Commission today published its progress reports on Romania and Bulgaria. The reports show that corruption in these countries is still not being adequately dealt with, a conclusion reached by the Commission for the fifth year in succession since the two joined the European Union. ‘This means that internal border controls with these countries cannot yet be done away with,’ says SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong. “Moreover, the Commission should stop hesitating and pluck up the courage to suspend various subsidies until we see some real progress in the fight against corruption.’

Dennis de Jong“Before internal borders can be opened, intensive and effective cooperation on the part of police and judiciary is a must,” adds De Jong, who has put official questions to both the Commission and the European Council on the issue. “For such cooperation to be possible, it’s essential that these institutions are free of corruption, and that’s just what’s lacking in Romania and Bulgaria. So it simply isn’t an intelligent move to open the borders now, as organised crime and corruption would be enabled to spread more quickly into other parts of Europe.”

Previous questions from the SP revealed that the Commission lacks an effective means of imposing sanctions in cases where progress is unsatisfactory. The SP’s suggestion is that it should be made possible to suspend subsidies in order to exert pressure.

Romania and Bulgaria have from the beginning failed to meet the demands of EU membership in regard to judiciary, police and the rule of law, which is why in 2006 the SP voted against their admission. In order to keep progress under surveillance the Commission established a monitoring mechanism, for which an annual report is published. “Year after year the Commission considers progress unsatisfactory,” says De Jong. “This toothless surveillance is thus completely ineffective. I hope that the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council learn from this when it comes to discussion of Croatia’s accession. Clearly, once a country’s in, any sense of urgency in relation to meeting demands regarding the quality of the judicial and police systems and the rule of law disappears. This mustn’t be allowed to happen again.”

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