In a recent interview, the Chancellor of Austria announced that the country It will retain veto power in the EU forum against the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen Area. He explained this by the fear of an influx of illegal immigrants, which the authorities in Bucharest, but also experts, consider an argument in the case of Romania to be unfounded and far-fetched.
In Romania, these measures taken by Austria are viewed as deliberately harmful and unfounded. From our point of view, Austria, which is not a member of NATO, is working to weaken us economically, as it is an important neighbor of the alliance, and thus works to Russia’s advantage. Eugenia Gusilov, director of the Analysis Center of the Romanian Energy Centre, said that when the EU should unite, Austria creates divisions.
She added that the “immigration” argument is ridiculous. She pointed out that Romania has no borders with Austria, and the routes of illegal immigrants do not pass through our country.
– Bulgaria and Romania have proven that they are part of the Schengen Area, so let’s accept them without further delay, European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen said on September 13. The European Union institutions also recommended joining.
Gusilov emphasizes that the EU Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (related to, among other things, reforms in the judiciary and the fight against corruption) was recently completed after 16 years.
Vienna is difficult
Despite this, Vienna is firm in its decision. In response, the government in Bucharest announced that it would consider suing the Austrian authorities and resolving the dispute before the European Court in Strasbourg. Such a scenario, which would eventually allow Romania to be accepted not unanimously, but by a majority of EU votes, is not in Bucharest’s favor either, because in the best option it would take about two years.
Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciulacu said in an interview with the newspaper “Der” that if Chancellor Nehammer continues to use his veto unfairly, as Prime Minister I will have to appeal this decision to the European Court in Strasbourg to demand compensation for losses related to non-accession. Standard”. According to him, these losses amount to at least 2%. Romanian GDP.
However, this is not the only problem related to preventing Romania’s access to the Schengen Area. Romanians feel betrayed and consider them second-class citizens in the European Union. This topic often comes up in public and in private conversations. “It really hurts us – we are supposed to be in the EU, but even when traveling we feel ‘equal and more equal’ because we have border controls with other member states,” says Tudor, a businessman from Bucharest.
The Romanians will not forget this
Experts, concerned about the growing popularity of local populists (mainly the AUR), point out that they are actively manipulating Romanians’ emotions and using their disillusionment to build anti-EU and, more broadly, anti-Western sentiment.
The only thing Austria can achieve is to strengthen extremists and bring them closer to power elections 2024 p. The current position of Vienna, Romania’s main economic partner, is shameful and will not be forgotten by Romanians. says Eugenia Gusilov.
Why is the “Hand of Moscow” being talked about in this context? “Because it causes a great wave of social frustration in both countries (Romania and Bulgaria) and the feeling that the European Union is rejecting them after 11 years of waiting,” the Digi24.ro portal wrote in its analysis. “Support for Eurosceptic trends and anti-Western populism has always been one of the most powerful weapons in Russia’s hybrid war in the EU countries,” we read in the post.
In Romania, you can often hear that Austria is a Trojan horse for Moscow. The media point out Vienna’s dependence on Russian gas, and estimate that after the start of the comprehensive aggression against Ukraine, imports of these raw materials increased. They also point out that Austria earned Russia many times more than it spent helping Ukraine, and that local companies still have many, including sketchy, connections with Moscow that help it circumvent sanctions. They also accuse Nehammer of meeting Vladimir Putin in Moscow after the war began.
Two Romanian MEPs Eugene Tomac and Vlad Putu? On September 13, they sent a letter to the EU envoy for sanctions against Russia, David O’Sullivan, demanding an investigation into Austria’s “compliance with sanctions against Russia and the political orientation of the European Union.”
Merely criticizing Austria is no longer enough. The Vienna policy undermines the European Union’s ability to deal with conflicts and crises in a coordinated way. Tomac explained on Facebook that Austria’s lack of solidarity with the European issue says a lot about the loyalty of its decision-makers and companies.
He noted, among other things, that despite the EU policy of “significantly reducing economic relations with Russia” in order not to support its war against Ukraine, Austria was increasing its imports from this country in 2022 (by 252% compared to 2019). While its imports from the European Union were decreasing.
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