Why Schengen membership for Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria is beneficial for Europe

The Schengen area, the largest border-free travel zone in the world, can soon be expanded with three new members. It currently consists of 22 EU Member States and four countries outside the Union: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Now Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria – the youngest EU members – are well on their way to becoming part of Schengen. And this is a good thing for startups and companies on the block.

Last week MEPs of the European Parliament approved the introduction of Croatia, urging the Council to proceed with the process and a final decision, itself confirmed in December 2021 that the country has fulfilled all the necessary conditions for the full application of the Schengen rules.

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Comments on the issue, rapporteur and MP Paulo Rangel marked that Croatia has so far undergone the “most comprehensive” evaluation for Schengen membership of any other EU member state, with 281 recommendations in eight areas of the respective legislation.

“The Commission and the Council have confirmed that the country is ready to fully implement the Schengen rules. The European Parliament fully agrees: the lifting of internal border controls should happen by the end of this year,” he added.

Since 2011, Romania and Bulgaria have also applied for Schengen.

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 accessiondue to insufficient action against corruption and organized crime.

However, last month Parliament — for the fourth time since 2018 — expressed his support for the immediate admission of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen.

Wednesday, the Commission called again to the Council to admit the three Balkan countries to the Schengen area.