Croatia Joins Schengen Area
On 8 December 2022, the Council adopted a decision on full application of the Schengen acquis in Croatia. After verification and in accordance with the applicable Schengen evaluation procedures, the Council found that the necessary conditions for application of all parts of the relevant acquis have been met in Croatia, including the effective application of all Schengen rules in accordance with the agreed common standards and fundamental principles.
This decision was made, after the European Parliament (EP) had endorsed the full application of the Schengen acquis in Croatia in a resolution of 10 November 2022. In another resolution of 18 October 2022, the EP invited the Council to allow Romania and Bulgaria to join the Schengen area. On 16 November 2022, the Commission adopted a Communication on full application of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia, calling upon the Council to take the necessary decisions without any further delay, thus allowing these three countries to join the area without internal border controls.
While the Council decided in its December meeting on full application of the Schengen acquis for Croatia, a small minority of states blocked the accession of Romania and Bulgaria into Schengen; thus the required unanimity for Schengen accession on the part of the EU Member States could not be reached for these two countries which joined the EU in 2007.
As a consequence of the accession of Croatia to the Schengen area, persons will no longer be subject to border inspections at internal land and sea borders between Croatia and the other members of the Schengen area starting on 1 January 2023. As a result of the necessity to align the lifting of border checks with the dates of the IATA summer/winter time schedule, checks at internal air borders will also be eliminated starting on 26 March 2023. Beginning on 1 January 2023, Croatia will also be able to issue Schengen visas and fully utilize the Schengen Information System (SIS). In accordance with Decision No. 565/2014/EU, national short-stay visas issued by Croatia before 1 January 2023 will continue to be valid for the duration of their validity for transit through the territory of other Member States or for intended stays on their territories that do not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.