Romanian President Traian Basescu has hit out at the Netherlands for vetoing his country’s bid to join the Schengen Zone, accusing them of committing “abuse” amidst rumors that Dutch opposition could be linked to Romania’s earlier block on Serbian accession to the EU. Both Romania and Bulgaria to the South were turned down for entry.
The Netherlands was the only member of the 25-nation Schengen Zone to reject Romania’s application for entry, alongside that of Bulgaria, despite the two nations apparently meeting all technical criteria.
The decision provoked a furious reaction from the Bulgarians, with some senior officials even calling for a boycott of Dutch goods. Now, Romania has vented its own anger and frustration at the latest ruling.
The Dutch opposition to Romania’s entry to the Schengen Zone is nothing short of “abuse”, claimed President Basescu, in comments reported by Romania-Insider. Speaking at a recent conference, Mr. Basescu insisted that his country had long met the entry criteria for inclusion in the Schengen area.
Mr. Basescu went on to warn that the Dutch were setting a dangerous precedent, saying that “other countries could do the same in future,” raising the risk of future abuses taking place in the EU.
One theory making the rounds is that Romania is being ‘punished’ by the Dutch for its earlier decision to block Serbia’s entry to the EU, a candidacy that Netherlands has thrown significant weight behind.
ACT Media reported how Romania vetoed Serbia’s EU entry on the grounds that it had not done enough to ensure that its minority population’s cultural identities would be protected. Romanian Environment minister Laszlo Borbely admitted that the issue was an important one for his country, as Serbia’s significant Vlach minority is ethnically Romanian.
Not all Romanians agree with this stance however. Corina Cretu, MEP and Vice Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Development, told B92 that she thought her country’s opposition to Serbia’s EU entry was actually just an attempt to rankle the Dutch, labeling it a “gratuitous act devoid of European spirit”, before adding that taking such a position on Serbia would not improve her country’s standing in the EU.
Romania’s accession to the Schengen Zone was originally scheduled for 2011, but was previously delayed by several EU nations. Since then, the country’s application has been approved by all EU states except for the Netherlands.