Romania’s Schengen Process in the Framework of Security Concerns

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Romania is a Balkan country of strategic importance both economically and politically. However, after the Russian-Ukrainian War, it became concerned about the violation of the principle of equality of states and sovereignty rights in the region. This war has increased the security concerns of national and international actors. Nevertheless, the country has recently taken steps to gain strength in diplomacy by renewing its policies to mitigate the war’s negative effects.

The European Union (EU) has accelerated its integration policies by putting aside internal debates due to concerns about the war. Although the concepts of prosperity and democracy, which have become synonymous with the EU, are still important, harmonization in security policies has become more essential in this process. In this context, the EU is trying to strengthen its relations with various states. The EU is attractive for these countries as it makes various investments in member states or states on the way to becoming a member.

Although Romania completed its EU membership process in 2007, it is not included in Schengen. However, negotiations on the country’s accession to Schengen are ongoing. In this context, negotiations have been held with Bulgaria and Austria.[1] This process is likely to be positive because of Romania’s important geopolitical position in the EU.

Romania’s Schengen membership requires the approval of all countries. However, in this period of normalization, moving away from the debate on the rise of the new right and into a process of normalization, it is not uncommon for rough edges to emerge.

On the other hand, the EU sees Bucharest as an important factor in the crisis, especially because it is concerned about Russia. This is supported by the EU’s approval of a 44 million grant to “help it deal with the impact of the war in Ukraine”.[2]

Today, since the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) share many member states, it can be assumed that the interests of these two international actors have become common. Although Europe’s initiatives have accelerated following the rise of Russia and China to prominence in international politics, it is not possible to say that the EU is militarily self-sufficient as Charles de Gaulle wanted. Considering the interests of the United States of America (USA) and the EU-NATO relationship after the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), it can be stated that the EU solved its security concerns under the NATO umbrella.

As it is known, the US policy of containment of Russia has recently gained momentum. One of the most important bases in this regard is Romania. After the Russia-Ukraine War, the US has been making moves to increase its power in the region. Worried about the spread of the war, Washington is aware that it will have to make a move based on NATO’s Article 5. At a time when the absolute power of the United States is being tested, the United States is being put to a serious test regarding the security concerns of its allies. At the same time, it is trying to prove to the international community that it can provide security against potential threats under the NATO umbrella.

In this context, the US, which has sent various armored vehicles and tanks to countries close to Ukraine, has decided to extend the mandate of the 101st Airborne Division stationed in Romania by nine months.[3] While these moves are expected to act as a deterrent against a possible Russian move, it would not be wrong to say that there is a provocative dimension, albeit unlikely. In the end, it can be argued that these developments have increased the trust in the US by the allies.

Today, the security understanding of states has changed. Instead of deterrent policies, there is a shift towards preventive policies. However, when it comes to Russia, states try all methods of prevention. In this context, Romania has also taken various steps. In addition to increasing its defence budget every year, the Bucharest administration has also opened its military bases to the US. It also hosts various NATO exercises. In this way, Bucharest is trying to show the international community that it is an important member of NATO by adopting deterrent policies.

On the other hand, Romania continues to support Ukraine on many issues. Both economically and diplomatically, Bucharest reiterated this support at the G7+ Summit.[4]

On the other hand, the Schengen issue in the EU integration process has caused frustration on both sides. Recently, however, Romania’s increasing efforts have received positive feedback from the EU, which wants to smooth out the rough edges. Erik Bergkvist, MEP for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, called for a faster process for Romania’s Schengen accession.[5]

Many news reports also show that Romania’s integration with the EU is on a positive course. One of them is the statements of the Romanian Minister of Agriculture Petre Daea regarding the €1.5 billion EU fund.[6] Therefore, it can be argued that the EU wants to improve its relations with Romania.

In short, Romania seems to be accelerating its steps towards integration with the EU and cooperation with NATO. Although there have been various complications in this process, the Russia-Ukraine War is seen as a factor encouraging integration for both sides. Although Romania’s compliance with the EU criteria is debatable, the Schengen process will likely accelerate in the coming period due to increasing security concerns in the region. Given the stability of the policy of pursuing a common strategy against outsiders, it can be predicted that the EU will encourage the countries concerned.

[1] “Romanian President, Foreign Minister Talk Schengen with Bulgarian, Austrian Counterparts”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 20.01.2023).

[2] “EC Approves Romania’s EUR 44 Mln Scheme to Help Cattle Breeders Fight Effects of the War in Ukraine”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 20.01.2023).

[3] “US Renews Troop Deployment in Southeastern Romania Close to Ukraine”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 23.01.2023).

[4] “Romania Reconfirms Support for Ukraine, Moldova at G7 Summit”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 25.01.2023).

[5] “Erik Bergkvist: Umarım Bulgaristan ve Romanya Schengen’e Daha Hızlı Bir Şekilde Girer”, Radio Bulgaria,, (Date of Accession: 23.01.2023).

[6] “Romanian Farmers can Access EU Funds Worth EUR 1.5 Bln for Irrigation, Minister Says”, Romania Insider,, (Date of Accession: 26.01.2023).