Romanian consulates from Chisinau and Istanbul will be inspected, starting Wednesday, regarding the Schengen space adhesion. There were 145.696 euros (-VAT) spent for preparing Romanian consulates for the moment of joining. Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a 39.7 million euros budget to set up its consulates according to the Schengen standards. The money are European funds, to which national funds add as well, according to the European norms.

Romania is aiming to join the Schengen space in 2011. This entails the elimination of border controls between the EU member states. Since Romania is becoming EU’s Eastern border, the country needs to strengthen the checks at EU’s border with its neighbourhood. It also needs to run more checks before awarding visas to non-EU citizens.

Thus, Romania is going through a stage of evaluations, according to a calendar:

  • March, 2009 – evaluating the cooperation of the Police forces
  • April, 2009 – evaluating data protection
  • June, 2009 – visas
  • September, 2009 – maritime borders
  • November, 2009 – aerial borders
  • December 2009 or March 2010 – terrestrial borders.

EU experts will take a close look not only to the way the Romanian authorities award Schengen visas, but also to the figures. The logistic endowment of buildings where the Consulates function is also under scrutiny.

For 2009 – 2010, Romanian Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MAE) receives 39.7 million euros from the European Union for modernising the consulates, and 15.3 million euros for the informational system.

The consulates in Istanbul and Chisinau were chosen from a list of five. The other three were the consulates in Moscow, Belgrade and Kiev. The two main criteria of choice addressed the significant number of visas awarded and the risk they are subject to due to immigration. The choice has also been made in agreement with Bulgarian authorities, since the two countries are evaluated together.

The recent news about MAE paying a monthly rate of 42.500 euros for its new headquarters in Istanbul raised controversies in Romania, but MAE motivated the money with the adjustments for the current Schengen evaluation, that will start on June 9. The old headquarters was not matching the standards and the necessary modifications could not have been made in time.

What are the EU experts looking at?

the access a citizen has to the consulate

the process of handing in a visas application and its evaluation

the security of the building and of the staff – technical equipments, detecting false documents.

Approximately 70 Romanian consulates have begun repairs and modernising on a non-national budget. 2009 will see closed deals with construction companies in this sense.

What has Romania already done to join the Schengen space?

Romania adopted the legislation for awarding visas. It obtained derogation for the Moldovan citizens until 2011, the moment of joining the Schengen space. They will not pay for visa fees until then.

The Schengen viza sticker was adopted. Although the sticker is already used, Romania will be awarding national visas and not Schengen, until it joins the Schengen space.

The EU Concil’s Schengen Evaluation Group is the authority assessing the states’ preparation for joining the Schengen space