Status: 12/08/2022 3:28 pm
Croatia could join the Schengen area without passport restrictions in January. The responsible ministers of 26 member states agreed to this. On the other hand, Bulgaria and Romania are excluded. This is mainly due to Austria’s veto.
The path is clear for Croatia to enter the Schengen area without border controls. This was agreed by the responsible ministers of the 26 Schengen countries at a meeting in Brussels, as announced by the Czech Council Presidency.
Restrictions on the popular holiday destination’s land borders will be lifted early next year. There will be no restrictions at airports from spring. For tourists, travel to the Adriatic country should be very easy. Until now, travelers from Germany have been stuck in traffic jams for hours to get into the country during the summer. Croatia will introduce the euro as a means of payment in early 2023.
Disappointment for Bulgaria and Romania
Romania and Bulgaria on the other hand were huge disappointments. Austria in particular blocked them from entering the Schengen area. The current Czech Council Presidency tried to reach a decision for all three countries with several compromise proposals – but ultimately without success.
New members can only be accepted into the Schengen area by unanimous vote. Romania and Bulgaria have been waiting for this decision since 2011.
Garner: Austria has a lot of immigrants
Austria’s Interior Minister Gerhard Garner had already announced before the meeting that he would vote against the enlargement to include Romania and Bulgaria. It is a mistake to expand a dysfunctional system. In the view of the conservative politician, Vienna, more migrants are coming to Austria, although countries on the EU’s outer borders are actually responsible for them.
According to Garner, “100,000 illegal border crossings” have already arrived in Austria this year, 75,000 of which were previously unregistered. In fact, unwanted migration to the EU has increased significantly recently. Between January and October, the border protection agency Frontex counted 281,000 irregular border crossings – a 77 percent increase compared to the same period last year. At least for Romania, the number of people registered there and the number of people who traveled to Austria without a permit between January and October 2022 is very low.
The Netherlands also resisted lifting restrictions on Bulgaria, for example due to constitutional concerns.
Phaser’s Review: Significant progress has been made
On the other hand, Germany, like the EU Commission, fully includes Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen area. All three countries are already bound by Schengen rules, but internal border controls with them have so far been maintained.
Federal Interior Minister Nancy Fesser said she could not understand Austria’s position. “It was agreed that it would be looked at: has progress been made? It clearly has been made.”
Commission for the Accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union
The European Union Commission has also certified this progress for three countries. “All three candidate countries have done what they have to do and are ready to ensure the security of our external borders,” said Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas. “It is unfair not to give them the opportunity they deserve and deserve.”
The Schengen Area currently includes 22 EU countries plus Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland. There are generally no fixed border controls at the internal borders between these countries.
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