Tatjana Ždanoka, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, the issue at stake is whether we grant assess to the Schengen area for Bulgaria and Romania. I myself come from a new Member State and I remember how it wanted to join the area. I therefore very much welcome the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to that area.
There were some shortcomings on the road to Schengen, but now the problems are resolved. Bulgaria and Romania are fully prepared to join the area of free travel in 2011. I understand the concerns about corruption and organised crime. That is why cooperation within the framework of the mechanism for cooperation and verification should be continued. However, we cannot invent new criteria for joining the Schengen area and we cannot undermine the certainty that a state is part of that area as soon as current criteria are met.
The debates in Parliament have revealed a clear need to avoid double standards when evaluating the implementation of the Schengen acquis in existing and acceding Schengen Member States. The file on that evaluation is thus crucial. We find it unacceptable that several Member States have suggested, in the Council, changing the legal bases for the proposal so as to exclude Parliament from the decision-making process.
I hope very much that our rapporteur, Mr Coelho, will defend Parliament’s prerogatives, as he always does very successfully, with our full support. I would like to thank him for his work and hope for further good cooperation in the future.