Croatia approved to join Schengen Area


Europe Schengen Enlargement
Passengers wait to cross the border between Croatia and Slovenia at the Bregana border crossing, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022. European Union countries are weighing on Thursday whether the bloc’s three newest members — Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia — can fully open their borders and participate in Europe’s ID-check-free travel zone, but more delays to their entry appear likely. (AP Photo) AP

Croatia approved to join Schengen Area

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European countries approved Croatia to join the Schengen Area, a free-travel zone within the continent, on Thursday in the area’s first enlargement in more than a week.

At the same EU session, a further expansion of the Schengen Area to include Bulgaria and Romania was blocked by two member countries.


Croatia will no longer have border control for its land and sea borders between Schengen Area countries beginning Jan. 1, 2023, while border control for the country’s air borders will be dropped for Schengen countries beginning on March 26, 2023. The presidency of the Council of the EU, which is currently held by the Czech Republic, also says the country will be permitted to issue Schengen Area visas beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

While Croatia received the unanimous support necessary for approval to join the Schengen Area, two countries voted against allowing Bulgaria and Romania to join the free-travel area, according to Bloomberg.

“I am very pleased that during the Czech Presidency, Croatia was able to take two important steps in its European integration by joining both the euro and the Schengen areas. I am confident that these successes will pave the way for other member states who fulfill the conditions to take the next step in their European journeys, and my colleagues and I will continue to work hard to ensure that we can welcome Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen family in the near future,” Vit Rakusan, interior minister for the Czech Republic, said in a statement.

Member states were reluctant to permit Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen Area due to concerns over the ability for the countries to “uphold the rule of law,” according to the report.


The Schengen Area currently encompasses 26 countries, including 22 of 27 European Union members, and allows for free travel without border control between countries in the area. Croatia will be the first country to join the area since Liechtenstein was added more than a decade ago.

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