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EU delays Bulgaria, Romania passport-free decision

The European Union on Thursday dismissed Bulgarian and Romanian calls to join Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone, delaying any vote on the issue until at least the end of this year. The 27-state EU bloc “decided to address this issue again by the end of 2013 with a view to considering the way forward,” said a statement issued after a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers. At the weekend, Germany had warned that it would veto Romania and Bulgaria joining the 26-country passport-free Schengen area if they pushed the issue at the meeting in Brussels. Any move to expand the Schengen area, home to 400 million Europeans who can cross national jurisdictional borders without passports, needs a unanimous vote.