Croatia will officially become the newest member of the European Union’s borderless area of Schengen on January 1, 2023, the European Union has confirmed.
The decision comes following a vote made by the European Union Member States on December 8, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“The Schengen Area is growing for the first time in more than a decade. Ministers approved Croatia’s membership as of 1 January 2023!” the Presidency of the Council of the European Union pointed out in a statement published on Twitter.
However, Bulgaria and Romania will not enjoy the benefit to move visa-free to Schengen Zone countries from next year, after there was not a unanimous vote made by the Ministers from the 27 EU countries in the meeting held today in order to support the accession of both these Balkan countries to this zone.
It was reported that Austria ceased Bulgaria and Romania’s hopes of becoming the newest members of the Schengen Zone.
Austria has welcomed Croatia’s joining the European Union borderless area of Schengen, but it did not support the accession of other Balkan countries, Bulgaria and Romania, who are also attempting to become part of this area, and have met all the needed requirements.
In addition, it was emphasized that the European Union countries have unanimously backed Croatia’s accession to Schengen Zone, but Austria prevented Bulgaria and Romania from becoming the newest members of the borderless area.
“We need more time. At the moment, we have 75,000 unregistered illegal migrants in Austria – meaning they have crossed an external EU border and made it to Austria. This needs to be solved first” Chancellor Karl Nehammer pointed out in this regard.
On the other hand, Germany has once again expressed its support regarding the joining of these three countries to the Schengen Zone.
In addition, today, the German Interior Minister, Nancy Faeser, confirmed its support for these three Balkan countries becoming part of the EU’s Schengen Zone, while she does not share the same opinion as Austria.
“I cannot understand Austria’s position in this respect. I know that Austria has big domestic debates over the issue,” Faeser pointed out in this regard, according to a report provided by Reuters.
Both Bulgaria and Romania have met all the technical conditions for this process to be finalized since 2011, however, such a process has not been finished yet.