More access to Schengen data
Bulgaria, Romania to check visa details, but cannot enter, amend or delete information
Maria Koleva, Brussels
6 October, 2017
With an overwhelming majority, MEP’s adopted on 4 October the resolution, steered by the Spanish EPP MEP Agustin Diaz de Mera Garcia Consuegra, on the proposed Council decision to grant Bulgaria and Romania passive access to the Visa Information System (VIS), that applies to all Schengen states. It is in accordance with the agreement on a draft regulation establishing an entry/exit system and is a precondition for the application of this system to those EU countries. It means that it would allow Bulgaria and Romania to consult and check VIS data, but without the right to enter, amend or delete them.
The rapporteur recommended that Parliament endorse the draft Council’s text without amendments so as to encourage the Member States to proceed speedily with the adoption of the decision.
Bulgaria and Romania entered the Union in January 2007 but, although both have met the required criteria for Schengen membership, they are still out of the border free area.
In his State of the Union address, delivered on 13 September, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker urged, “If we want to protect our external borders and rightly so strengthen them even more, then we need to open the Schengen area of free movement to Bulgaria and Romania immediately.” On 28 September, in a letter signed by Gianni Pittella, S&D Group President in the parliament, addressed to the President of the European Council Donald Tusk, the group insisted on him taking all the necessary steps to enable Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area. S&D MEPs argued for this move, saying, “Following the thorough subsequent evaluations carried out by the European Commission, Romania and Bulgaria proved to fulfil the conditions necessary to join Schengen area.” “On behalf of the Socialists and Democrats Group that I am chairing, I strongly encourage you, dear President Tusk, to take the necessary steps towards enabling the full application of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria and Romania and abolition of checks on persons at internal land, sea and air borders,” states the letter.
Still in 2011, in their resolution MEPs underscored that Bulgaria and Romania are ready to join the Schengen area. The rapporteur on that dossier Carlos Coelho, Portuguese EPP MEP, stated after the approval of the resolution that “the citizens of Bulgaria and Romania should be regarded as fully European citizens, and should not be hostages of populist discourse.”