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Border-free Europe unlikely before start 2008-Finns
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 01 - 12 - 2006


The European Union's new member
states are unlikely to join the border-free "Schengen" area
before the start of 2008 at the earliest, the Finnish EU
presidency said on Friday, according to Reuters.
The EU originally planned to let the 10 mostly ex-communist
states that entered the bloc two years ago into the borderless
area in October 2007.
"It could be perhaps the internal border checks will be
abolished perhaps at the beginning of 2008 at the best," an
official of the Finnish EU presidency said.
The Schengen visa agreement was created in 1985 to end
internal border checkpoints and controls. There are currently 15
members, including two non-EU members Iceland and Norway.
Interior Ministers of the 25 EU member states will decide at
a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday on what kind of border check
database they will put in place to accomodate the new members.
The process has been slowed by appeals against tenders for
the construction of the database as wells as by slow progress
made by national governments and the European Parliament on
drafting laws providing for the expansion.
However, some diplomats from new member states have said
some "old" EU countries may be using technical hurdles as a
pretext to delay the Schengen enlargement at a time of growing
public fears about the impact of immigration.
The EU newcomers are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia,
Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and
Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania are due to join the EU at the
start of 2007.


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