Croatia to join Schengen area without border controls in 2023 – Politics

The way for Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area without border controls is clear. The responsible ministers of the Schengen countries agreed on this at a meeting in Brussels. The controls at the land borders of the popular holiday destination are to be abolished at the beginning of next year. On the other hand, there was no majority for the admission of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area.

The Schengen area is a free trade area that currently includes 26 European countries: 22 EU countries plus Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland. It is characterized above all by the fact that there are no hard borders between the countries – and therefore no border controls. Exceptions are special rules since the crisis involving a large number of arriving refugees in 2015.

The EU Commission recently pushed for Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania to be included in the Schengen area. The authority decided in mid-November that the addition of the trio would make the EU safer and more attractive and contribute to greater prosperity. The three countries are already partially bound by the Schengen rules – but the border controls at the internal borders with them have not yet been lifted.

Travelers in particular should be happy about Croatia’s accession: huge traffic jams form at border crossings from the Schengen state of Slovenia to Croatia every summer. Now the controls at the land borders could be eliminated at the beginning of 2023, at the airports in March next year. Croatia also wants to introduce the euro as a means of payment next year.

Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer had already made it clear before the meeting that lifting border controls with regard to Romania and Bulgaria is currently out of the question for his country: too many unregistered migrants are arriving. “That means they crossed an external EU border and still got through in a country like Austria. These security issues must first be clarified,” said the conservative politician.

The resistance of the Netherlands was directed solely against Bulgaria, for example because of concerns about the rule of law. Prime Minister Mark Rutte said before the meeting that it would take more time to make a decision. New members can only be admitted unanimously. The European Parliament has already agreed – Romania and Bulgaria have been waiting for the decision since 2011.

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