The European Commission wants Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia to join the Schengen area

“Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are ready to join the Schengen area. » On Wednesday 16 November, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson reiterated the European Commission’s call for the three countries to be immediately granted the right to join the free movement area, where border controls are no longer organized in principle.

“The wait was too long. You are ready and the European Union [UE] ready to welcome you”, stressed the Swedish commissioner. Romania and Bulgaria have now been waiting eleven years to enter this zone, which unites 26 countries – 22 EU member states and four non-members including Switzerland and Norway – and which allows more than 420 million inhabitants to travel without taking their passport across most of the continent. Croatia’s candidacy, which joined the EU in 2013, was positively assessed by the Schengen area countries in December 2021, but the country is still awaiting its formal admission.

This demand from the Commission comes three weeks before the next Council of Interior Ministers, which has to decide on expanding the Schengen area from January 2023. Like the Parliament, which multiplies the decisions for the Schengen extension, the Commission wishes to complete “One of the great successes of the Union”reminded Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Prague at the end of August.

A unanimous decision

Nevertheless, the 22 members of the EU and Schengen still have to be convinced, the decision will be taken unanimously. Such a decision is politically sensitive when the issue of migration is back in the public debate. The lack of borders also facilitates the circulation of migrants. After two years of the pandemic, which saw the number of asylum seekers fall, flows across multiple channels have surged across the continent since the beginning of the year. Of course, the Mediterranean route, which led to bitter disputes between Italy and France over the docking of theOcean Vikingbut also the Western Balkan route.

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Along this route, many countries, Austria and Hungary at the forefront, have already put in place internal controls that contradict the Schengen letter to curb the transit of these people. From now on, Slovenia will talk about such a call when the Schengen area welcomes Croatia, announced Tanja Fajon, the Slovenian foreign minister, on Monday 14 November.

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