Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia ready to join Schengen area, says European Commission
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The European Commission has declared Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia ready to fully join the Schengen area. A final decision on the matter now rests on the vote of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, which will take place on December 8.
The commission is, therefore, urging the European Council to take the necessary decisions without any further delay to allow the countries to join the Schengen area.
“While the three countries are already bound in part by the Schengen rules, the internal border controls with these Member States have not been lifted and therefore they do not enjoy the full benefits that come with being part of the Schengen area without internal border controls. Becoming fully part of the Schengen area is a requirement for these Member States and they should therefore be permitted to do so given that they fulfil the conditions, ” the commission explains.
The EU body adds that an enlarged Schengen area without internal border controls would make Europe more secure by eliminating time lost at borders and it would also facilitate people and business contacts.
Bulgaria and Romania have established strong border management with efficient border surveillance and systematic border checks and both countries successfully completed the Schengen evaluation process in 2011. The council recognised the completion of the evaluation process in two separate Council Conclusions, but no Council decision on the lifting of internal borders has been taken for more than 11 years.
In October 2022, however, Bulgaria and Romania proved that they have not only continued implementing new rules and tools, but that they have also substantially reinforced the overall application of the Schengen architecture in all its dimensions, the commission states. Moreover, these two countries proved to have a model track record of implementation of the Schengen rules.
As for Croatia, the European Council confirmed in December 2021 that the country had fulfilled the conditions required to join the Schengen area without internal border controls.
The evaluation process took place from 2016 to 2020. It included a successful targeted verification visit in 2020 to verify the implementation of actions in external border management.
As the three countries have completed all the requirements successfully, the Justice and Home Affairs Council will vote on the full participation of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia to the Schengen area without internal border controls on 8 December.
If the three nations do indeed join the Schengen area, it will come as a huge boost to the international hauliers based in those countries. Some of the longest truck queues in Europe often form on three countries’ Schengen borders, and accession to the Schengen zone would dramatically reduce the problem.
Image credits @ By Rob984 – Derived from File:Schengen Area.svg, CC BY-SA 4.0,