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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The Schengen area will be bigger. Croatia has EU approval to join the zone from 2023

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European Union member states confirmed Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area on Thursday. At the same time, Romania and Bulgaria were denied access to it.

“Last step done! Council decision adopted – now formally confirmed Croatia will join the Schengen area as of January 1, 2023,” the Permanent Representation of Croatia to the EU tweeted.

This means, above all, facilitating travel. “There is a border control when entering and leaving Croatia. Croatia is not part of the Schengen area. When traveling to Croatia, you must always have a valid passport or ID card with you – this applies to everyone, regardless of age” – informs Polish MFA. Once Croatia joins the Schengen area, border controls will disappear.

Croatia is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Poles. In 2022, Croatia has already been visited by over a million Poles, the Croatian Tourist Board reported at the end of September.

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On Thursday, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson also announced that EU countries had refused Romania and Bulgaria access to the Schengen area.

Prime Minister of Romania: joining the Schengen area remains our national goal

Romanian Prime Minister Nicoale Ciuca announced on Thursday that despite the rejection by the EU authorities of Romania’s candidacy for the Schengen area, Bucharest will not stop trying to apply for admission to it.

The head of government stated that Romania’s candidacy was unjustifiably blocked by an “inflexible attitude” Austria. He added that he was deeply disappointed by the lack of consensus on this issue among EU countries.

“Romania’s accession to the Schengen area remains our national strategic goal and we will continue all discussions and negotiations to achieve this goal,” said Prime Minister Ciuca.

EU Commissioner on the enlargement of the Schengen area

In mid-November, Commissioner Johansson said that Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania have implemented EU recommendations by improving border management, ensuring the possibility of cooperation between international law enforcement agencies and adopting a uniform Schengen visa format.

Not all EU countries are in favor of new members joining the “free travel club,” Politico wrote at the time, adding that some countries, such as Sweden, are expressing concern about organized crime and corruption in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania.

The Netherlands was against Bulgaria’s membership in the Schengen area. Dutch Foreign Minister Hopke Hoekstra said it was too early for Bulgaria to join Schengen. He stated that the condition is the efficient functioning of the rule of law, which is able to fight corruption and organized crime, which is not guaranteed by the current authorities.

Bulgarian Justice Minister Krum Zarkov, who together with Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ivan Demerjiev held talks with the Dutch authorities in recent days, described this position as cynical and unacceptable.

– I expect the Member States to take this important, historic decision, which would be a moment of great pride for the citizens of these countries (Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania – ed.), and above all, a decision in the interests of all of us – said Commissioner Johansson, however, expressing willingness to admit three new members to Schengen.

Schengen zone

The Schengen area currently covers over 4 million square kilometers, where almost 420 million people live. It has 26 members: 22 out of 27 EU Member States and all members of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

Schengen zonePAP

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