No more borders – Croatia to join the Schengen Area in the near future
Will the borders between Croatia and Slovenia belong to the past soon? The chances are not bad as Croatia’s admission to the Schengen Area seems to be imminent. ”I would like to compliment Croatia for its efforts and its perseverance on the fulfilment of all the necessary requirements for its entry into Schengen‟, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently declared in Strasbourg. Insiders are expecting that the annoying and time-consuming border controls between both states might be dropped already next spring.
For skippers in the Adriatic area this step would make things a lot easier. Those frequently using the land route from Austria to their Croatia-based ship used to think twice about it as, especially during the summer months, time-consuming tailbacks stretching for kilometres were not uncommon. Entire boat crews who were heading from Italy or Slovenia to Croatia via the Adriatic had to face a real odyssey in the country of departure, especially in Italy, in order to obtain the necessary documents. In many cases they got lost in the competence jungle of Italian authorities and preferred to set out ”illegally‟.
The forthcoming accession of Croatia to the Schengen Area, up to now consisting of 26 European states (without Croatia), should allow EU citizens to cross the border without showing a passport or passing any border controls. The emphasis is on ”should‟, as some states, like Germany, Austria and Denmark, have re-established controls, at least on a partial basis. These controls are intended to fight illegal immigration.
However, there is only one issue left to be solved through the diplomatic channel: The border conflict between Croatia and Slovenia over the demarcation of the terrestrial and maritime border within the bay of Piran. But there is one thing for sure: Tourism in Croatia will definetly benefit from the omission of border controls as this obstacle on the way to the Adriatic, although not the only one, most probably had prevented many Austrian holidaymakers from quickly getting some rays, relaxing and breathing some Adriatic air during the summer months. On the other hand, Juncker’s statement might be taken as a kind of accolade for the new EU member Croatia: the EU is giving Croatia credit for the protection of the Schengen external borders for its territory.