The European Commission has given its formal approval for Croatia to join the EU Schengen area. If this decision is supported by fellow EU members, the country will become the newest member of the passport-free travel zone in the near future.
In a press release issued by the European Commission on the 22nd of October 2019, the EC claimed that: “Croatia has taken the measures needed to ensure that the necessary conditions for the full application of the Schengen rules and standards are met.”
The Commission’s satisfaction with Croatia’s progress was also echoed by EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker who commented on this worldwide visa information by offering Croatia his personal congratulations.
Juncker also stated that “sharing the achievement of Schengen must be our common objective. This is why I trust that Member States will take the right steps for Croatia to become a full Schengen member soon.”
Schengen Membership Criteria Met
Since joining the EU in 2013 and applying for Schengen membership just 4 years ago, the country has made fast progress in meeting the criteria necessary.
It has managed to convince EU officials that it has the required provisions in place to manage its external borders and ensure the integrity and security of the zone.
If membership is granted, travelers visiting Croatia from other member countries will be able to enter the country without passing through passport and immigration control
This global visa information is likely to be a major boon to the already burgeoning tourism economy of the country. Croatia welcomed over 17 million foreign tourists in 2018 and once the new legislation in place, will certainly hope to grow that number even further.
Croatia’s Next Steps To Schengen Membership
Now that the European Commission has given the ok to Croatia joining Schengen, the idea must now be debated, approved and ratified by all other EU member governments. The country will only be granted membership if a unanimous decision is given.
Croatia must also demonstrate to the Commission a continued and sustained commitment to its duties as a potential Schengen member. This means continuing to work on the infrastructure and security methods necessary to fully join and integrate into the Schengen area once approved.
The decision to approve Croatia may be viewed as controversial in some circles. The country only joined the EU in 2013, whilst non-Schengen nations Romania and Bulgaria have been EU members since 2007 and have not as yet been approved to join. However, this isn’t expected to affect Croatia’s potential membership of Schengen.
The Schengen zone currently consists of 22 of the 28 full EU members as well as 4 EFTA countries, including, Iceland and Norway. If final approval is granted, the country will become the newest Schengen member state since Lichtenstein joined the free travel area in 2011. It will also be the 27th country to join the passport-free travel area.