A press release from the EU Commission stated:
The European Commission considers that, based on the results of the Schengen evaluation process initiated in 2016, Croatia has taken the measures needed to ensure that the necessary conditions for the full application of the Schengen rules and standards are met,
Croatia will need to continue working on the implementation of all ongoing actions, in particular, its management of the external borders, to ensure that these conditions continue to be met. The Commission also today confirms that Croatia continues to fulfill the commitments, linked to the Schengen rules, that it undertook in the accession negotiations.
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker commented:
I commend Croatia for its efforts and perseverance to meet all the necessary conditions to join Schengen…This is why I trust that the Member States will take the right steps for Croatia to become a full Schengen member soon.
For a country to join the Schengen it must prove responsibility for controlling the EU’s external borders on behalf of the other member states. This involves complying with security authorities of member states and applying rules such as control of external land, sea and air borders, visas, police, personal data, and the need to connect to and use the Schengen Information System and the Visa Information System.
To ensure countries meet the criteria regular checks and evaluations are conducted.
However, although a country may meet the criteria and receive approval it does not guarantee that the country can join the Schengen. The member states are required to make a political decision on the accession.
One example is of Bulgaria and Romania who have been approved since 2011 but have not joined Schengen due to member states not fully in the agreement. Currently, Slovenia states it will not back Croatia as it is not happy with an ongoing border dispute.
Despite this, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship commented:
Schengen is one of the greatest and most tangible achievements of European integration. But its strength very much depends on its inclusiveness – now that Croatia has taken the measures to ensure that the necessary conditions are met, we must recognise this. Once it becomes a full member, it will contribute to further strengthening the area and ensure that the EU’s external borders are better protected.
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