Thursday, June 9, 2011
Yesterday, the European Parliament voted in favor of allowing Bulgaria and Romania to join the border-free Schengen zone that faciliates the free movement of people beween countries in Europe. However, the EP vote is non-binding and therefore is largely symbolic. The vote was intended to give impetus to a stalled process prior to a meeting of EU Ministers today at which the ministers are expected to vote to postpone a decision on joinder until September due to continuing concerns over corruption and organized crime.
Meanwhile, the EU Presidency has said that accession talks with Croatia may be completed within the next two weeks in time for a June 21 meeting between the current President and Croatian officials. There are four categories of issues or chapters remaining to be discussed: budget, competition, judiciary and "any othe issues." The strength of the Croatian judicial system is particularly of concern due to issues of corruption. The European Commission has set the target date for Croatia's admission as mid-2013. However, the text of the accession treaty must be finalized and all the existing Member States must agree to Croatia's acceptance before it will take effect.