Proposals of the EU Council: Croatia soon Schengen member?

Croatia soon Schengen member?

When does Croatia join the Schengen area, so that the congestion end at the border, we asked at this point back on 10.2.2022, because: because Croatia is currently not yet part of the Schengen area, the traffic at the border with Slovenia is still partially jammed for several kilometers..

Now, however, momentum may finally be building, as the EU Council proposed on June 29, 2022, to abolish border controls at Croatia’s land and sea borders with Schengen countries from Jan. 1, 2023, and at airports from March 26 next year.

What is the Schengen regime all about? The so-called Schengen Agreement states, first of all, that Schengen citizens can cross the common internal borders of EU member states at any point without personal checks; a Schengen visa basically entitles the holder to visit the entire Schengen area for up to 90 days.

Currently Croatia does not (yet) issue Schengen visas – this could change soon

Currently, in addition to Croatia, there was also a special situation in Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus: despite full membership in the EU, these states (Bulgaria and Romania: Accession on 1.1.2007, Cyprus: accession on 1.5.2004 and Croatia: accession on 1.7.2013) apply the Schengen acquis so far only partially. Accordingly, these states do not (yet) issue uniform Schengen visas.

For this reason, anyone who wants to cross to the other side of the country must currently endure time-consuming and nerve-racking systematic identity checks at the border to Slovenia. The reason: the Slovenian-Croatian border is at the same time an external Schengen border; anyone who crosses it either leaves the Schengen area or enters the Schengen area – with the consequence that, as a rule, people have to be checked.

Previously, 2022 was considered the expected year of Croatia’s accession to the Schengen community

Croatia had already been considered a candidate for Schengen accession for some time. However, when accession to the Schengen area would be completed was still up in the stars until now. Until now, 2022 was considered the expected year of accession.

However, certain conditions must be met before the entire Schengen acquis can be adopted. These include, for example, the commissioning of the further developed system for searching persons and objects and the successful completion of an evaluation procedure.

Premier Plenković: Zagreb is “ready” for admission to the Schengen area

This case could now come to pass, as Croatian news portal euractiv.com writes. This is good news for all travelers: because it would subsequently mean the elimination of internal border controls.

The news item, dated 6/23/2022, says that Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told the EU summit in Brussels last Wednesday that Zagreb was “ready” for admission to the Schengen area. “We are ready for the legal standards, we are ready for the protection of the border, we are completely ready,” Plenković is quoted as saying there.

The EU Council made a proposal to its parliament to abolish border controls from Jan. 1, 2023

In fact, according to a statement by the Croatian news portal index.hr from Zagreb on 29.6.2022, now Plenković’s request of 22. 6.2022; exactly one week later, on 29.6.2022, the EU Council had made the proposal to the European Parliament “to finally abolish border controls at Croatia’s land and sea borders with Schengen countries from 1 January 2023 and at airports from 26 March next year”.

The different dates for the abolition of air traffic control have “technical reasons,” he said, because at airports in Schengen countries it is “necessary to change the gates for aircraft arriving and departing in Croatia in order to be able to separate passengers, i.e. (to) direct them to exits without border controls.”

Only after the EU Parliament has given its opinion can the Council take a corresponding decision

The Schengen accession procedure now requires that the opinion of the European Parliament be sought before a final decision is taken by the EU Council. While this opinion is not binding on the Council, it is a procedural step that cannot be bypassed.

Where do we go from here? The Parliament is expected to vote on the opinion at one of two plenary sessions scheduled for October. This will set the stage for a final decision by the Council, which, however, will require the consensus of all 22 members of the Schengen area who are members of the EU.

The final decision is expected in October, and with the opening of borders could come the euro

Currently, the Schengen area includes 26 countries, but four of them are non-EU members – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland; however, these countries do not have voting rights.

The Council’s decision could then also be made in October, index.hr reports; barring unforeseen obstacles, Croatia would thus become a member of both the Schengen area and the eurozone in its tenth year of membership in the EU: if Schengen accession is actually confirmed as requested, it is likely that Croatia will also adopt the euro on January 1, 2023.

For holders of a valid Schengen visa, it could then mean from Jan. 1, 2023: finally crossing the Slovenian border without checks – and without waiting

For travelers at the Slovenian border, it could then mean: holders of a valid Schengen visa (text in the visa label: “valid for Schengen states” in the respective language of the issuing state) can stay in the entire Schengen area – including Croatia – for up to 90 days per period of 180 days, as long as this is covered by the permissible period of use of the visa.

The same applies to holders of most national residence permits as well as national visas of category “D” issued by the respective Schengen states for longer-term stays of more than three months. Only for the other EU states, which are not Schengen states, a separate visa may then be required.

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