Croatia gets EU approval to join border-free Schengen area

The favorite Czech holiday destination will become part of the Schengen area from Jan. 1, 2023. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 09.12.2022 14:39:00 (updated on 09.12.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Balkan nation of Croatia attracts hundreds of thousands of Czech tourists annually. Holidaymakers will be able to visit with greater ease from Jan. 1, 2023.

The Ministers of the Interior of the member states of the European Union approved Croatia's entry into the Schengen area Thursday. 

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković as well as the European Council announced the news of the country's entry into the Schengen area on Twitter.

"Croatia received the unanimous support of the Council for Internal Affairs and Justice, we become a member of Schengen on January 1, 2023," Plenković tweeted.

The Czech EU presidency account tweeted that the Schengen zone would expand for the first time in over a decade. Liechtenstein was the last country to join the European borderless area in 2011.

The inclusion of Croatia in the Schengen zone means arrivals from the Czech Republic and other parts of the border-free area will be able to travel to Croatia without border checks from the beginning of next year. 

Romania and Bulgaria were not voted into the Schengen area. Representatives of those countries said they were disappointed by the ministers' decision. The denial of these countries could weaken the EU, said Politico.

Croatia was accepted following a three-year assessment process. Another important step in the country's European integration, i.e. the adoption of the euro, was agreed on by EU finance ministers in July.

From Jan. 1, border checks with Slovenia and Hungary will also be relaxed. People arriving from other Schengen countries by sea won't be required to go through border control. For those flying to Croatia, border checks will be cancelled at the end of March.

"Of course, for Czech citizens, for whom Croatia is the most popular summer destination, this means a great relief, it means traveling without a passport, it means traveling without border controls," Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan told reporters in Brussels and ČTK reported.

Croatia will become the 27th member of the Schengen area, which currently consists of 22 EU states and four non-EU countries: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. 

Joining Schengen is an obligation for EU member states, while the entry of a new country requires the unanimous consent of the EU states that are already part of the area.

Czech economists told ČTK that opening borders will make Croatia even more attractive to Czech tourists and also anticipate a stronger interest in the purchase of Croatian real estate by Europeans.

Increased economic cooperation is also anticipated between companies and individuals in the Slovenian, Hungarian, Italian and Austrian regions near the borders. Tourists will also save fuel and the time they spent waiting at the border. 

The Czech Republic joined Schengen on Dec. 21, 2007, with Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Poland.

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