The European Union has declared that Croatia will formally join the Schengen region, which is devoid of borders, on January 1, 2023.
According to sources, the decision was reached after a vote taken earlier today by the European Union's member states.
"The Schengen Area is growing for the first time in more than a decade. Ministers approved Croatia’s membership as of 1 January 2023! ", the European Union's Council Presidency noted in a statement shared on Twitter.
However, due to the fact that there was not a unanimous decision made by the Ministers from the 27 EU countries in the meeting held today to support the accession of both these Balkan countries to this zone, Bulgaria and Romania will not be able to travel visa-free to Schengen Zone countries starting in 2019.
It was said that Austria put an end to Bulgaria's and Romania's chances of joining the Schengen Area as its newest members.
Austria has hailed Croatia's entry into the Schengen area of the European Union without supporting the entry of other Balkan nations Bulgaria and Romania, which are also seeking membership in this region and have fulfilled all requirements.
It was also noted that while Austria blocked Bulgaria and Romania from becoming the newest members of the borderless area, the European Union nations unanimously supported Croatia's entry into the Schengen Zone.
"We need more time. At the moment, we have 75,000 unregistered illegal migrants in Austria – meaning they have crossed an external EU border and made it to Austria. This needs to be solved first," noted Chancellor Karl Nehammer.
Germany, on the other hand, has once more stated that it is in favor of these three nations becoming members of the Schengen Area.
In addition, although she differs from Austria in this regard, Germany's interior minister, Nancy Faeser, today reaffirmed her country's support for the accession of these three Balkan nations to the EU's Schengen Zone.
"“I cannot understand Austria’s position in this respect. I know that Austria has big domestic debates over the issue," Faeser said in this regard, according to a Reuters article.
Since 2011, Bulgaria and Romania have both complied with all technical requirements, although the procedure has not yet been completed.
By fLEXI tEAM