The Schengen Area, the world’s largest border-control-free travel zone, may soon be expanded to include three new members. Currently, it consists of 22 EU member states and 4 non-EU countries: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Now, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria – the youngest EU members – are on the right track to become Schengen members. This is a boon for the group’s start-ups and corporates.
Last week, the European Parliament’s MPEs approved the introduction of Croatia, urging the Council to move forward with the process and a final decision, confirming in December 2021 that the country has met all the necessary conditions for the full application of Schengen rules.
Rapporteur and MPE Paulo Rangel, commenting on the matter, emphasized that Croatia has so far undergone the “most comprehensive” assessment of Schengen membership by any other EU member state, having satisfied the eight areas of the respective legislation 281 recommendations.
“The committee and the council have confirmed that the country is ready to apply for the integrity of the Schengen rules. The European Parliament is in full agreement: Internal border controls must be lifted by the end of this year,” he added.
Romania and Bulgaria have also been knocking on Schengen’s door since 2011.
Although the EU Council and Parliament confirmed in the same year that both countries met all the required criteria, the Netherlands and Finland vetoed their accession, citing actions to combat corruption and organized crime insufficient.
However, last month, parliament – for the fourth time since 2018 – expressed support for admitting Bulgaria and Romania into Schengen without delay.
On Wednesday, the committee again called on the Council to allow the three Balkan countries to enter the Schengen area.