Romania’s becoming an EU member on January 1, 2007 ushered in a new stage calling for preparing and taking necessary measures to lift controls at internal borders with a view to joining the Schengen Area.
Eliminating controls at the internal borders of the European Union is the most salient and significant effect of EU integration.
The Schengen Area, a unique historical achievement, can only operate provided the 25 member states work together on managing external borders, while taking responsibility in drawing up a set of measures common to these states.
The Romanian authorities set March 2011 as deadline for meeting this requirement. As regards organization, the Government of Romania drew up The Schengen Plan of Action aimed at aligning and implementing Community provisions, rounded off by the National Strategy for Integrated Management of State Borders over 2010-2012.
As a new member of the European Union, Romania pledged to implement the provisions of the Schengen acquis that are mandatory since admission date (Art. 4 of the Protocol on conditions and arrangements concerning Bulgaria and Romania’s admission to the European Union, part of the Treaty of Accession of Romania and Bulgaria).
To Romania, the first stage of accession was the signing in January 2008 along with the Republic of Bulgaria of the Common Declaration concerning accession to the Schengen Area on 30 March 2011.
The second stage was submitting the answers to the Schengen Evaluation Questionnaire to the Schengen Evaluation Working Group of the EU Council.
The last current stage refers to the evaluation of the seven domains of interest: police cooperation, data protection, consulates, maritime borders, air borders, land borders, SIS/SIRENE.
Accession requires successful completion of the process of Romania’s evaluation by experts delegated by the member states, the EU Council and the European Commission, as well as meeting certain technicalities, according to a pre-set calendar.
To support Romania and Bulgaria over the period between accession date and the end of 2009, the Schengen Facility financial instrument was put into operation for the purpose of financing actions at the new EU borders, to put into effect the Schengen acquis and border control.