- Title: FRANCE/FILE: France against Romania, Bulgaria joining Schengen zone
- Date: 30th September 2013
- Summary: LILLIE, FRANCE (FILE - AUGUST 26, 2012) (REUTERS) POLICE OUTSIDE BUILDING NEAR ROMA CAMP VARIOUS OF ROMA FAMILIES BEING EVACUATED AND POLICEMEN
- Embargoed: 15th October 2013 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: International Relations,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAXLURVY0K55UMZ5749FP3JIQ6
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: France is not in favour of allowing Romania and Bulgaria into Europe's passport-free Schengen zone for now due to concerns about border security, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Monday (September 30).
"It has not yet been decided, it should be decided on January 1st whether or not Bulgaria and Romania could join the Schengen zone. What would be the consequences if they joined Schengen? Not the confusion we usually hear. But it means that people from countries outside Europe could enter Bulgaria and Romania and then penetrate freely through the whole of Europe. There is a problem there because we must be sure that Bulgaria and Romania have the means to verify that (does not happen). We must decide before the end of the year but for the moment it seems to me that those conditions have not been met," Fabius told France Inter radio of a forthcoming European Union decision on whether to grant passport-free movement to these citizens beginning January 1, 2014.
His comments came amid fierce debate within France's ruling coalition over the treatment of the Roma population.
Some 20,000 Roma migrants from Romania and Bulgaria live in hundreds of squalid make-shift camps on the outskirts of French cities. Tensions with local communities have made Roma migration a contentious issue ahead of municipal elections next year.
Romanian and Bulgarian citizens currently have the right to travel with a passport throughout the Schengen zone, which removes border controls among most EU countries as well as non-members such as Switzerland and Norway.
Temporary restrictions that imposed passport checks were put in place when the two countries joined the EU in 2007, and are due to be lifted in January. But each EU country has the right to veto the admission of a member state into the Schengen zone and a vote is expected before the end of the year.
Germany said in March that it too opposed the entry of the two countries into the zone.
Last week, Interior Minister Manuel Valls caused uproar in the left-wing governing coalition by saying most immigrant Roma could not be integrated into society and should go home.
According to a latest poll released on Saturday, 93% of the French people believe that Roma are not well integrated into French society.
On the streets of Paris, opinions were divided.
"I think everyone stigmatising the Roma community, we see it in the news. We point a finger at this community. There are some problems that exist but I think we make too big a deal out of it and that above all it's a political game today between the different parties," said one passer-by Theophane Burgaud.
"I don't know what we are going to do. France is becoming poorer, we are talking about letting these countries enter, I have nothing against these people. They are people to whom we have to give, and from whom we can't receive anything. So I don't know what is going to happen," said another.
French President Francois Hollande is due to speak about the issue at the end of the week, according to local media.
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