"Can the CMV report open the door to Schengen?" questions the front page of Romanian daily România Liberă, referring to the interim report of the European Union's Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), released Wednesday. The CVM is charged with monitoring the progress of judicial reforms and to eliminate corruption in Romania and Bulgaria. Both countries are also applicants for entry to the European Schengen Area, which allows freedom of travel.
According to the report, Bucharest and Sofia have made progress but the fight against corruption at the highest levels of the administration is still sluggish, especially in Romania, the paper notes. The report calls on Romania to make magistrates more accountable and to discourage corruption through the application of exemplary punishments and the confiscation of ill-gotten gains. The CVM also suggests the implementation of a national anti-corruption strategy and the exclusion from parliament of MPs or senators convicted of corruption. In spite of the progress achieved, Romanian Minister of European Affairs, Leonard Orban, told the paper that the Netherlands, the main opponent to the entry of Romania or Bulgaria into the Schengen Area, will not change its position until the CVM presents its final report this summer.
In Bulgaria, the release of the CVM report was overshadowed by reports on the inclement weather and the declaration of a day of national mourning to honnour the eight victims of flooding in the village of Bisser in southern Bulgaria. Nonetheless, on-line news site Medipool says the report is "very critical" of Bulgaria and highlights that, for the first time, there is no mention in the report of Sofia's "political will" to fight corruption and to implement the necessary judicial reforms.