European Parliament: Rutte should not be so difficult about Romania's arrival

Informal EU 27 Summit and Meeting within the European Political Community

The European Parliament believes that Dutch Prime Minister Rutte should no longer be so difficult about Romania's admission to the Schengen Treaty. The Netherlands is the only country that still opposes this. According to D66 MEP Sophie In Veld, Rutte's rigidly dismissive attitude is gradually putting European unity at risk.

Almost unanimously, the European Parliament on Tuesday in Strasbourg adopted a resolution calling on European heads of government to admit Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen zone as soon as possible. Only a few dozen right-wing nationalist Europoliticians from some Eastern European countries voted against. The EU heads of government will meet at a scheduled summit in Prague late this week.

The European Parliament made the call by an overwhelming majority of 547 to 49 votes. The five VVD MEPs abstained from voting, but so far have not made a public statement.

Last week Prime Minister Rutte paid a one-day visit to Bucharest; according to an official announcement to visit Dutch NATO soldiers stationed in Romania. He also met with Romanian President Ioannis. Virtually nothing was disclosed by The Hague about that conversation.

Since the upheavals in Eastern Europe in the 1990s – after the execution of the then dictator Ceausescu and his wife – Romanian politics and government have been characterized by many power changes, nepotism and rigged elections.

Much has changed in recent years under President Klaus Ioannes, who was elected in 2014. Some even say he banned the mafia from government.

As early as 2011, most EU countries and the European Commission established that Romania and Bulgaria fulfilled all the criteria for accession to Schengen. Not all EU countries are members of that Schengen treaty (free travel without customs), and a number of non-EU countries are. A number of countries continued to block admission for years, with the Netherlands as the last remaining obstacle. 

It is not officially known what position Prime Minister Rutte will take at the upcoming Euro summit. He may have devised some sort of compromise or Ruttian compromise with President Ioannis in Bucharest last week.

D66 MEP In Veldt said that Rutte must show leadership: there are clear criteria and Bulgaria and Romania have been meeting these for more than ten years. According to her, it is the Netherlands that keeps coming up with new demands and asks whether the two countries want to jump through new hoops again. 

“Purely to placate our own VVD supporters; it has nothing to do with Bulgaria and Romania. It is quite right that there is now a fuss about this. European unity is at stake," said the D66 politician. 

“On the one hand, we expect Romania and Bulgaria to guard the European borders for us and receive refugees in these uncertain times, but at the same time we are keeping those two countries on the line. That's not how we got married. A deal is a deal. The Dutch government must comply with that.”