EU Interior Ministers Approve Croatia’s Accession To Schengen 

Croatia’s Adriatic coast is the most popular summer holiday destination for Czech tourists. Photo credit: AC / BD.

Brussels, Dec 9 (CTK) – At a meeting in Brussels yesterday, EU Interior Ministers approved Croatia’s entry into the Schengen free movement area. From the beginning of January 2023, those entering Croatia from elsewhere in the Schengen zone will not be subject to border checks when entering by land or sea, and from 26 March, border controls at airports will also be abolished.

The ministers reached a unanimous decision on the issue just after 2pm yesterday, after several hours of negotiations. The result was announced on Twitter by Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovič and the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU.

However, the ministers did not agree on the admission of Romania and Bulgaria to the free movement area, which must be approved unanimously. Romania and Bulgaria have met the necessary conditions to join the Schengen area for about ten years, but Austria in particular is opposed to their admission. 

In the meeting, Austria opposed Romania’s accession, and both Austria and the Netherlands were against Bulgaria’s, citing problems with Romanian and Bulgarian institutions and the increasing number of irregular migrants arriving in the EU via the Balkans, which Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karneru attributed to issues at the EU’s external borders. 

Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan, who chaired the meeting as part of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, told reporters in Brussels that the decision to accept Croatia was “a great relief” for Czechs, for whom Croatia is the most popular summer holiday destination. He had earlier described Croatia’s accession as “a huge success of our presidency”.

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