It’s been seven years since Romania joined the European Union. But the country is not yet part of The Schengen Area - the border-free zone that enables passport-free movement between many EU states. Romania must first prove it can control its 3,000-kilometre border. A billion dollars have been invested in Bucharest’s ultra-modern border surveillance. But can Romania control migration and trafficking across its frontiers?
Immigration, freedom of movement, refugees and borders…all words and phrases that are coming up more and more in European news stories as the politics of migration take centre stage. Romania is at the heart of this debate. The country is currently preparing to become part of Europe’s passport-free travel area, the Schengen Zone, and with that it will take on the responsibility of defending what will become Schengen’s eastern border.
The country, which became a part of the European Union in 2007, should have entered Schengen in 2011. But its membership was pushed back several times, notably by France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Bucharest now hopes it will finally get the green light at a European Council meeting on December 19, but it’s unlikely to be a unanimous decision. So what really goes on at those Romanian borders, which will sooner or later become the eastern edge of the Schengen Zone and therefore bear the brunt of illegal immigrants attempting to cross into Europe? Our reporters have been finding out.