Photographer: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images

Juncker Calls for Romania, Bulgaria to Be Admitted Into Schengen

Romania and Bulgaria should be allowed to join the European Union’s border-less Schengen area because they meet all the technical criteria, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

While the two Black Sea neighbors, which joined the 28-nation bloc in 2007, have met Schengen entry requirements for some time, they’ve struggled to garner political support from all member states on joining it. Some countries have delayed a decision, citing concerns with the progress in reforming the judiciary and the fight against corruption.

Read more: Juncker Tells EU to Seize ‘Window of Opportunity’ After Brexit

“If we want to strengthen the protection of our external borders, then we need to open the Schengen area of free movement to Bulgaria and Romania immediately,” Juncker said in his televised address on Wednesday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. “We should also allow Croatia to become a full Schengen member once it meets all the criteria.”

Juncker also urged Romania, which will take over the rotating six-month presidency of the EU in January 2019, to organize a “landmark” summit in the town of Sibiu in March to discuss the future of Europe after Brexit. He also said that the EU should expand into the western Balkans when they’re ready to join.

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