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New EU states cry foul over border delay

BRUSSELS, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- New members of the European Union say politics is behind a projected delay in allowing the states to participate in the EU's Schengen borderless zone.

The EU Observer said the original target date for newcomers to be able to travel to Western Europe without border checks was October 2007. The new timetable proposed by the European Commission would delay the move to mid-to-late 2009.

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The commission says the delay is mainly due to the time needed for the central EU office to store and transfer fingerprints and other security data among the current and new Schengen countries, the newspaper reported.

Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia say the real reasons are political. "We have a kind of fortress Europe, with a separate first floor for Schengen countries, plus a citadel for the monetary union," Jan Kohout, Czech ambassador to the EU, said Tuesday.

The zone is named after the Luxembourg town of Schengen where the agreement setting up the zone was signed.

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