After the European Parliament approved Croatia becoming a full member of the Schengen area, the final decision on the abolition of internal controls must be made unanimously by the Council of the European Union, which will consider the issue on December 9.
However, the abolition of internal border controls between the Schengen area and Croatia will in no way affect the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which shares a 1,000-kilometer state border with Croatia.
This was confirmed by the rapporteur of the European Parliament, Paulo Rangel.
He added that this will mean that the capacities of the European Union will be even closer to BiH, which is good for the country that expects to receive candidate status for membership in the European Union as early as next week and eventually become a member of the EU, and believes that Croatia’s entry into the Schengen area in the interest of BiH.
Namely, Croatia fulfilled all the conditions and met the criteria, introduced technologies to protect its borders, especially because it borders Bosnia and Herzegovina, which many in the EU consider a constitutionally complicated country where it is difficult to implement the rules.
The European Parliament has long advocated the expansion of the Schengen area without document checks at internal borders, which today includes 26 member states (all EU member states except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania and the non-EU countries Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
Back in 2018, representatives stated that Croatia should be included in Schengen as soon as it meets the necessary criteria. Also, on October 18, 2022, they expressed their support for the admission of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen without delay.
However, as things currently stand and as claimed by some diplomatic sources from the European Union, the Council could make a very controversial and problematic decision on December 9 and grant Croatia permission to join the Schengen zone, but not allow it for two other countries – Bulgaria and Romania.
Those sources also expressed concern that such a decision could cause a crisis, especially for Sweden, which takes over the presidency of the Council on January 1, and which at the same time applied to join the NATO alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The coronavirus pandemic and the migrant crisis, which is currently intensifying in the Mediterranean area and along the Western Balkan route, have shown the importance of protecting the external borders of the European Union, diplomatic sources from Brussels point out.
At the same time, Rangel emphasizes that Croatia has so far undergone the most extensive evaluation of Schengen membership compared to any European Union member state and that it has fulfilled 281 recommendations from eight areas of Schengen legislation.
The Commission and the Council confirmed the country’s readiness to fully apply the Schengen rules, which is why the European Parliament took the position that the abolition of internal border controls must be implemented by the end of this year.
The Schengen area is an area of free movement of people and goods within which there are no borders for travelers, except in extraordinary circumstances. Citizens of countries located in this area can live, study, work and spend time anywhere in the European Union.