EU member states agreed on Thursday on a text confirming that Croatia meets all the conditions for implementing the Schengen acquis, paving the way for a final decision on entering the Schengen Border Area. The text was formally adopted on Thursday by EU member state interior ministers.
At Wednesday's meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER), The Netherlands and Sweden voiced procedural reservations regarding Croatia's accession to Schengen. This blocked the adoption of a conclusion as no decision can be reached without the consent of all member states. However, The Netherlands and Sweden gave the green light on Thursday, in time for the interior ministers meeting in Brussels to officially confirm it.
Representatives of both countries said that in principle they have no substantive objections to the text of the conclusions, but that they were bound by common procedures in their respective countries with regard to approving EU decisions.
According to the approved text Croatia has met all the necessary conditions for the application of all parts of the Schengen acquis, which now means that the preconditions for the Council to adopt a decision in accordance with the agreement on Croatia's accession for the abolition of internal border controls. With a view to Croatia's accession to Schengen, Croatia is called upon to continue to consistently implement the Schengen acquis and the obligations related to the Schengen acquis, the conclusions state. These conclusions are a procedurally necessary condition for making a decision on entering the Schengen area and removing border controls at the Croatian land border with Slovenia and Hungary, as well as at airports and seaports.
The final decision on joining Schengen could be made in about six months during the French EU presidency, and requires the consent of all Schengen member states. The adopted conclusions do not mean that the decision to join Schengen is guaranteed because since it is decided unanimously, it cannot be ruled out that some of the members will block the decision. Conclusions on Schengen readiness for Bulgaria and Romania were adopted back in 2011, and yet neither country has actually joined Schengen.
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