In a bold move, Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu has threatened to take Austria to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) if it fails to lift its veto on the country’s Schengen accession bid by December. This latest development comes amid escalating tensions between Romania and Austria over the issue of irregular migration.

Romania has been striving for full membership in Schengen, the EU’s passport-free zone, for over a decade. However, its accession has been repeatedly blocked by Austria, citing concerns over migration flows. The Austrian government has expressed fears that granting Romania Schengen access would lead to an increase in irregular migration, particularly along the Western Balkan route.

Romania’s Response

Ciolacu’s threat of legal action highlights the growing frustration among Romanian authorities over Austria’s persistent opposition. He has stated that Romania is prepared to challenge Austria’s veto in the ECJ if the issue remains unresolved at the next two meetings of EU interior and justice ministers.

Romania is not alone in its frustration with Austria’s stance. The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, has repeatedly assessed that Romania has met all the necessary criteria for Schengen accession. Additionally, the European Parliament has called on the EU Council to approve Romania’s membership.

Despite the mounting pressure, Austria remains unfazed by Romania’s threats. Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner has reiterated Austria’s position, stating that the country is currently considering introducing more border controls, not less. He has argued that expanding Schengen at this time would be counterproductive given the current migration situation.

Relations Between Romania & Austria

The impasse over Romania’s Schengen accession has strained relations between the two countries. It also raises questions about the future of Schengen itself, which has been touted as one of the most significant achievements of European integration.

Legal experts remain divided on whether Romania’s threatened legal action against Austria would be successful. Some argue that Austria’s veto is justified based on legitimate concerns over migration, while others believe that Romania has a strong case.

Only time will tell how this saga will unfold. However, one thing is clear: Romania’s determination to join Schengen remains unwavering, and the country is prepared to fight for its place within the EU’s border-free zone.

The Timeline of Romania’s journey to join the Schengen Agreement

  • 1993: Romania submits its first application for Schengen membership.
  • 2002: Romania signs the Schengen Agreement.
  • 2004: Romania joins the European Union.
  • 2007: The European Commission recommends Romania’s accession to Schengen.
  • 2011: Schengen evaluation missions conclude that Romania is ready to join the area.
  • 2013: The European Parliament adopts a resolution calling for Romania’s accession to Schengen.
  • 2014: Austria blocks Romania’s accession, citing concerns about migration.
  • 2015: The European Commission publishes a report stating that Romania has met all the technical requirements for Schengen membership.
  • 2016: The European Parliament again adopts a resolution calling for Romania’s accession to Schengen.
  • 2017: The European Commission proposes a mechanism to allow Romania and Bulgaria to join Schengen without the unanimous consent of all member states.
  • 2018: The European Parliament rejects the Commission’s proposal.
  • 2019: The European Commission launches a new initiative to facilitate Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen.
  • 2020: The European Commission publishes a report stating that Romania and Bulgaria have made significant progress in fulfilling the Schengen acquis.
  • 2021: The European Parliament adopts a resolution reiterating its call for Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen.
  • 2022: Austria continues to block Romania’s accession.
  • 2023: Romania threatens Austria with a lawsuit over the delay.
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