Romania and Bulgaria are left frustrated, while Croatia is cleared for the Schengen area

The European interior ministers have today given the green light to Croatia’s accession to the Schengen Area. This was announced by the Czech presidency of the European Union on Twitter. From then on, Croats can travel between most European countries without a passport or other requirements. To their great frustration, Romania and Bulgaria need to exercise even more patience.

Croatia will join the Schengen Area on 1 January next year. It is the first time in more than a decade that the European Space will expand without internal borders. For Croatia itself, New Year’s day will also be a special day. After all, in addition to joining Schengen, the Balkan country will also adopt the euro on that day.

For Bulgaria and Romania it is a painful day. Both countries joined the European Union in 2007 and have been part of the club for six years longer than Croatia. However, both countries are still in The Waiting Room of the Schengen zone and will remain so for a while. Austria and the Netherlands again blocked the accession of Bucharest and Sofia on Thursday.

The consultation on the three candidate members took many hours today, much longer than planned. However, the other member states were unable to change the minds of the Netherlands and Austria. Their stubborn resistance caused “a certain bitterness in the room,” according to an EU source.

“Today is a day of disappointment for Romania and Bulgaria,” Commissioner Margaritis Schinas tweeted. “But our efforts do not end here. Schinas referred to next week’s EU summit and suggested that EU leaders should raise the issue there. “A way forward must be found.”

Within the Schengen Area, internal border controls have been abolished. This means that the 26 participating countries must close their borders with the rest of the world. In addition to Bulgaria and Romania, only Ireland and Cyprus are members of the European Union, but not of the Schengen Area. As islands, these countries are in a special situation. The non-EU member states Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also members of Schengen.

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