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Bulgaria, Romania Make Step towards Schengen Area

Date: 11.06.2010

The European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee approved on Thursday an EU Council decision that both Bulgaria and Romania comply with data security requirements for joining the Schengen Information System.

A report by Carlos Coelho (EPP, PT) approving the Council decision, which is the first step towards lifting the border checks, was approved in committee with 36 votes in favour, 1 against and 3 abstentions.

The decision aims to pen in a deadline for implementing the regulations regarding the Schengen Information System, which will allow the two countries to provide and extract data from the system under certain limitations.

The lifting of the two countries' border checks with the borderless Schengen must be approved by the council at a later stage following further tests.

Currently, Bulgarian citizens are allowed visa-free entry into the Schengen system and there is eased access to Bulgaria for Schengen visa holders, but the country is not a full member of the system.

Bulgaria submitted its formal declaration of readiness in September 2007 and sent European authorities follow-up reports, penning in March 2011 as the target date for accession to the Schengen zone.

The estimates turned meaningless due to a delay in the award of a tender to produce biometric passports and lack of progress on the second generation of the EU's Schengen Information System, more commonly known as SISII.

The 1985 Schengen Agreement is an agreement among most Western and Central European countries which allows for the abolition of systematic border controls between the participating countries.

By the Treaty of Amsterdam, the agreement itself and all decisionsbeen enacted on its basis had been implemented into the law of the European Union.

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