Romania’s accession to Schengen at risk over rule of law crisis

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday visited the European Commission in Brussels to talk about the future of the EU and the ongoing rule of law crisis in Romania. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that he has no intention of activating Article 7 against Romania, but that Romania’s accession to Schengen would be looked at in “completely different terms” if proposed judicial laws are adopted.

This meeting came a week after the Commission warned against “backtracking” on the rule of law and said it was following the situation “with concern”.

Rule of law crisis in Romania

President Juncker said that the rule of law had made “remarkable” progress in Romania, and that he had “every confidence in the Romanian justice system.” He took aim at Poland, saying that Romania’s judicial system was independent and functional, while he could not say the same of all member states.

He also decried calls that he was incorrectly informed about the situation, saying that the Constitutional court must have also been equally badly informed because of its decisions on the the proposed legislation.

Juncker reiterated that he wanted to lift the special monitoring of Romania by the end of 2019 but that it would be harder to do with the proposed laws on the judiciary being passed as they stood.

President Iohannis highlighted that the independence of the Romanian justice system should be considered something that is intangible.

Romania’s place is in Schengen

President Juncker again repeated his wish for Romania to join the border-free Schengen zone, saying it was the “natural and deserved place of Romania” and that the Romanian people do not deserve to be treated as second-class European citizens.

However, he also warned that if the proposed Romanian legislation on the judiciary was to remain as it was, then “the accession of Romania to Schengen would be looked at in completely different terms.”

Romania is a “firmly pro-European” country

President Iohannis said that Romania’s vision was a firmly pro-European one and he said that he believed Romania would contribute to the building of a good future for the European Union.

“I have underlined from the outset that Romania is a pro-European country and it will stay so…A strategic objective for Romania is deeper integration in the European Union.”

Image source, European Commission

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