Monday, 5 July 2021

With Croatian Eurozone Entry Coming, Economist Talks Price Rises

July the 5th, 2021 - Croatian Eurozone entry might seem a far away event, but it is edging ever closer with discussions about what the Croatian design on Euro coins taking place. What will happen if you're making loan payments in Croatian currency? The details so far.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, on Thursday, after a session of the National Council for the Introduction of the Euro, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and Croatian National Bank Governor Boris Vujcic stood before the press and talked about Croatian Eurozone entry. Plenkovic said that they were convinced that the country would be ready to enter the Eurozone on January the 1st, 2023, and Vujcic added that until that date, we need to work "at full speed".

The question of how ready Croatia actually is for this step and whether the aforementioned period is long enough to prepare everything was discussed by economic analyst dr. Sc. Petar Vuskovic, who believes that in technical terms, Croatian Eurozone entry can happen relatively quickly.

"Croatia is already highly euroised. This means that the kuna is just a currency model. In that sense, we're ready for the euro. We have to convert the kuna, adjust the ATM system, and harmonise accounting items,'' explained Vuskovic for Net.hr.

When people start talking about Croatian Eurozone entry and the removal of the kuna, what worries people the most is that with the arrival of the euro, everything will become more expensive.

"The rise in prices due to the introduction of the euro will not occur because the rise in prices is predominantly dependent on the movement of raw material and energy prices. If you look at the countries that have already adopted the euro, price growth was at most a mere 0.3 percent. Annual inflation is, for example, one percent,'' explained Vuskovic, before adding:

"The euro will reduce loan installments. Countries that have the euro are considered currency-safe, so the cost of capital is lower. The euro means more than two billion kuna to the market that exchange offices and banks would have taken during exchange operations,'' Vuskovic concluded.

For more, follow our lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

New Consul: Italy Gives Biggest Support to Croatia's Schengen Membership Bid

ZAGREB, February 26, 2020 - The new Italian Consul-General in Rijeka, Davide Bradanini, said on Tuesday that the two countries have had extremely good relations for years and that Italy provides Croatia with the greatest support for its efforts to join the passport-free Schengen Area.

During his visit to the Istrian city of Pula, the consul said that the two countries had developed good relations and cooperation in the economic, political, cultural and tourism sectors.

"So far, a lot has been done in those sectors, and I would like to deepen our shared interests and cooperation in all fields," said Bradanini.

He praised Pula and Istria for the rights and entitlements enjoyed by the local Italian community.

"I am aware of the fact that the Italian minority here is a great asset," Bradanini said.

The acting Istria County prefect Fabrizio Radin said that although Croatia is part of the European Union, the current border system is still a barrier, underlining the importance of Croatia's admission to the Schengen Area.

Pula Mayor Boris Miletić said he is proud of the city's statute which guarantees rights to all ethnic minorities in Istria's largest city.

More news about relations between Croatia and Italy can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Croatian Politics 2019: A Year in Review

What follows is a review of events in Croatian politics in 2019, as reported by TCN. If you would like to refresh your memory about the events which has led us here, read the reviews for the three previous years (2016, 2017, 2018).

The year started with a high-profile failure by the government. Months after it was announced that Croatia would buy used Israeli F-16 fighter planes, the US government vetoed the sale and the whole project fell through. Despite earlier warnings from experts that the deal was in question, ministers continued to claim that everything was alight. However, after a meeting between high-ranking officials from the United States and Israel, the truth was revealed. Ministers lost their nerves and the government launched an immediate investigation, which expectedly ended without any real results, and also announced that it would re-start the process. To show its level of seriousness, it even established a commission! Twelve months later, the process of deciding which aircraft to buy still hasn't move any further on and is not expected to end for at least another year.

The migrant crisis continued to be in the news this year. The inflow of migrants over the borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia increased somewhat, together with media coverage about alleged brutality of Croatian police and illegal pushbacks of migrants to Bosnia. The authorities were quick to deny everything, but the sheer number of documented cases makes it apparent that at least some of the allegations are founded.

Efforts to limit media freedoms continued this year and some reporters were even briefly arrested. Journalists, NGOs and international organisations stood up to these attempts, but the final score is still unknown.

Repression continued in other ways as well, with courts ruling that peaceful protesters should go to prison, Croatia's human rights situation being criticised from abroad, ethnically-motivated assaults (several of them) taking place, ombudswomen’s warnings not being heard, journalists receiving instructions from the president on what to do, and diplomats spreading hate...

Historical revisionism was in full force once again this year. As a result, representatives of Jews, Serbs and anti-fascist organisations once again boycotted the government’s annual commemoration at the site of the Jasenovac concentration camp.

European elections were held in May (with even Pamela Anderson giving recommendations to Croatian voters). While the ruling HDZ party had high hopes earlier in the year (and was supported by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who attended one of its rather controversial rallies in Zagreb), the actual results were much tighter and were interpreted by everyone as a success for the opposition (particularly SDP) and a disappointment for the government.

June brought us a few days of excitement when it seemed possible that prime minister Plenković might just succeed in his life-long dream of getting a top EU job. Despite denying he ever wanted such a thing, he was rumoured to be trying to become president of the European Commission (or president of the European Council, or perhaps something else). In the end, he had to return to Croatia empty handed, again denying his alleged attempts.

Unlike Plenković, foreign minister Marija Pejčinović-Burić was more successful in the area of career development. In June, she was elected secretary-general of the Council of Europe. She promptly resigned her post in Croatia and has not been heard about since. Another happy politician is Dubravka Šuica, who has been appointed Croatia’s commissioner in the European Commission.

Mostly good economic news continued. Public debt is at its lowest level in decades, the European Commission concluded that Croatia no longer suffered from excessive economic imbalances, and GDP growth is holding up.

One of the companies which was in the public focus this year was Croatia Airlines, Croatia’s national flag carrier. Its business results were dismal and the search for possible strategic partners was on, but without any real results. The government eventually decided to cover some of the debts, but as the year comes to and end, there is no long-term solution in sight. In the meantime, Zagreb Airport continues to lose airlines using its services.

The construction of an LNG terminal on the island of Krk has apparently started out with strong support from the US government, after many years of delays and announcements. The project is funded from the state budget, since there was no interest among anyone to actually use the terminal. The government claims that there will be interest once the terminal is built, but it would not be the first major government-funded project in Croatia’s history to fail to deliver on its promises.

The construction of Pelješac bridge continues to go at an even faster pace than expected (despite occasional Bosnian protests), mostly thanks to the efforts by the Chinese construction company which won the tender, which also brought about a marked improvement in the relations between Croatia and China. Unfortunately, the construction of the access roads leading up to the bridge has not progressed nearly as fast, with tenders being decided just several months ago. It is quite possible that, when the bridge is built, it will be unusable for a while because there will be no roads leading to it.

Emigration continues amid Croatia's demographic crisis, although somewhat slower than in previous years, probably as a result of the fact that most of those who could have left have already done so. The authorities talk about demographic revival, but nothing much has happened so far.

Political scandals were as numerous as ever. The regional development minister had an accident while driving without a driving license, the agriculture minister forgot to list all his assets on an official statement, the administration minister had his own scandals which were too numerous even to count, and the state assets minister had problems of his own. The Prime minister strongly supported his ministers before some of them resigned, and then he changed his mind and dismissed the rest of them.

The ruling coalition remained stable this year, despite occasional rumours of impending collapse. Ultimatums were rejected, resignations demanded, talks announced, decisions to stay in coalition made, threats given... Just the usual stuff.

As expected, the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia has not been resolved this year. Slovenia was disappointed with the EU’s decision not to get involved in a dispute between its two members. The chances that this issue will feature in our review for 2020 are quite high.

In October, the European Commission announced that Croatia has fulfilled all the technical conditions to join the Schengen area. However, the final decision will require the unanimous support of all EU member states, and Slovenia does not seem ready to give its approval until the border dispute with Croatia is resolved. 

Another major project is the introduction of euro in Croatia. After a lot of talk, the government has finally sent an official request. The process will certainly take years and opinion is divided as to whether it is a good idea or not.

One of the highlights were the trade union's activities. Earlier in the year, the unions managed to collect enough signatures for a referendum against the government’s pension reform and an increase in the retirement age. The government capitulated and revoked already approved laws (although it previously warned that such a decision would be a disaster).

The other major trade union success was the primary and secondary school strike later in the year. After almost two months, the government capitulated and gave the unions more or less everything they had asked for.

One of the highlights of the next six months will be Croatia’s EU presidency. The government is promoting it as a great success, although all EU member states sooner or later get their chance to hold the rotating presidency. While Croatia's plans are ambitious, their delivery will probably be more modest.

The major event at the end of the year was the first round of Croatia's presidential elections.

While the post is largely ceremonial, elections are held every five years and still manage to occupy public attention for months. Three major candidates launched their bids: incumbent president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (officially an independent candidate who in reality is HDZ), former SDP prime minister Zoran Milanović, and singer Miroslav Škoro, who presented himself as a candidate of change, despite having been an MP, a diplomat and a former HDZ member.

The first round was held on December 22. Zoran Milanović won with 29.6% of the vote, followed by Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović with 26.7%. Škoro was third with 24.5%. Milanović and Grabar-Kitarović will take part in the run-off on January 5.

Friday, 8 November 2019

HRW: Border Pushbacks Disqualify Croatia for Schengen

ZAGREB, November 8, 2019 - The European Commission’s October conclusion that Croatia is ready to join the Schengen Area "wilfully brushes over evidence of violent pushbacks of migrants at its borders," Human Rights Watch said on Friday.

As proof of that claim, HRW released a video documenting the abuses.

"The European Commission’s action sends the message that serious human rights abuses are no obstacle to Schengen accession. The European Commission should investigate the situation instead of rewarding Croatia," HRW said in a press release.

"Croatia's unlawful and violent summary returns of asylum seekers and migrants should disqualify it from joining the Schengen Area," said Lydia Gall, senior Eastern Europe and Balkans researcher at HRW. “Ignoring Croatia’s abuses of migrants at its borders makes the notion that Schengen membership is contingent on respect for human rights just meaningless talk."

The HRW video features interviews with people shortly after they were summarily returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina by Croatian police in August. It includes interviews with other pushback victims and witnesses of pushbacks, including the mayor of Bihać, a BiH town across the border from Croatia. It also shows credible secretly recorded footage of Croatian police officers escorting groups of migrants across the border to BiH without following due process.

The summary return of asylum seekers without consideration of their protection needs is contrary to European Union asylum law, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and the 1951 Refugee Convention, HRW said.

According to the press release, HRW has documented summary collective expulsions from Croatia to Serbia and BiH since 2016.

"In some instances, Croatian border officials have used force, pummelling people with fists, kicking them, and making them run gauntlets between lines of police officers. Violence has been directed against women and children. Unlike with lawful deportations, migrants are not returned at ports of entry, but rather in remote border areas, including, at times, forced to cross freezing streams."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner, and other nongovernmental organisations have echoed HRW concerns. Although President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović in July acknowledged that authorities engage in pushbacks, Croatian authorities have repeatedly denied the allegations, including to HRW, and in some cases have accused aid groups and victims of fabricating facts to make Croatian police look bad, the press release said.

Croatian authorities have not taken credible steps to halt the practice and to hold those responsible to account, HRW said.

"In a meeting with Human Rights Watch in May, the Interior Ministry state secretary, Terezija Gras, said the Croatian police would investigate any complaints filed by migrants about police mistreatment but could not say how many complaints the authorities had received. Nor could she explain how a migrant pushed back from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina would be able to a file a complaint with the authorities in Croatia."

To join the Schengen area without border and passport controls, member states have to fulfil certain criteria, including respect for the right to seek asylum, HRW said.

"The EU Schengen Borders Code Article 4 says that member states should act in compliance with EU law and 'obligations related to access to international protection, in particular the principle of non-refoulement (banning the return to a country where they would face torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or other irreparable harm)'. ... Pushbacks effectively preventing people from accessing the Croatian asylum procedure violate Article 4."

Before using the European Commission’s report to approve Croatia’s full access to Schengen, the European Council should call for a reassessment of Croatia’s compliance with the EU Schengen Borders Code, HRW said.

The Council should also put in place a monitoring mechanism for Croatia as well as initiate legal enforcement action against Croatia for violating EU laws, HRW added.

"Letting Croatia join Schengen when migrants and asylum seekers continue to be brutally pushed back would be an EU green light for abuses," Gall said. "The European Commission should not just accept Croatia’s empty promises, but ensure that Schengen criteria are truly met, which is clearly not happening now."

More news about migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Plenković Hopeful Border Dispute with Slovenia Won't Affect Croatia's Schengen Bid

ZAGREB, November 2, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in an interview which the Euronews television news network broadcast on Friday that he believed that Slovenia would not block Croatia's accession to the passport-free Schengen Area over their border dispute, adding that the dispute was irrelevant in that context.

"First of all, the border dispute between Croatia and Slovenia is an open issue that we have on the agenda for the last 30 years. Had this been a condition for any of the two countries to join the EU or to join the Schengen, then Slovenia would not have entered either, in either of the two inner cycles."

"Our firm belief is that Schengen membership for Croatia should be completely separated from a bilateral border issue between the two countries. For us it is the Savudrija Bay, for them, it is the Piran Bay. At the end of the day, we can find a solution," Plenković said in his response to the reporter's question whether due to "the open dispute with Slovenia over the Gulf of Piran" the Slovenian side might even veto Croatia's way to the Schengen Zone if there is no solution.

Plenković expressed confidence that the two countries can find a solution. "What we are saying towards our Slovenian neighbours 'we have an open issue, there are ways to solve it, peaceful ways, good neighbourly relations and a solution that can be acceptable for both sides, unrelated with our Schengen ambitions."

Upon the reporter's remark that Croatia recently got a green light from the European Commission for the Schengen Zone and that the decision came "as a surprise to many because lately, Europe seems to be closing in rather than opening up," the premier said that "first of all, the decision of the college of the European Commission, of Jean-Claude Juncker’s Commission in Strasbourg last week is actually a fruit of four years hard work by Croatia, by fulfilling the criteria which are structured in eight different chapters of the so-called Schengen acquis."

"In every (all) of these chapters, we have managed to elevate the readiness of Croatia to be part of Schengen. So this was a very thorough technical evaluation by the Commission services."

In response to the reporter's comment that Croatia has a long coastline, including 1,300 kilometres of border with non-EU countries which prompted her to ask Plenković if Croatia considered any special measures to protect its borders, he answered "Not only considered, but we have put them in place."

"Croatia has very much invested in the capabilities of our police force. We have 6,500 police officers fully trained and equipped to guard the external EU border, which is the Schengen border. We have not opted either for walls or barricades or barb wires, unlike some other countries, because we felt first of all that the relationship that we have with Bosnia- Herzegovina, in particular, was not the adequate way to guard the border. So we are cooperating between the police services of Croatia, of Bosnia- Herzegovina, of Croatia and Serbian Croatian Montenegro."

Plenković also dismissed accusations levelled by some NGOs say about "police violence against immigrants".

The premier says: "We have always respected the Croatian law, we have respected the highest standards, but we are also protecting our border. Any allegation that we have heard, it has been investigated. So far when it comes to the behaviour of our policemen we can only praise their efforts for guarding not only the Croatian border but also guarding the border of all the other EU member states which are behind us."

More news about Croatia and the Schengen area can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Those Who Don't Think Croatia Is Ready for Schengen Area Show Ignorance

ZAGREB, October 27, 2019 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Saturday that Croatia's admission to the Schengen Area should be one of the priorities for Slovenia and the European Union, and that those who did not think that Croatia was prepared for the Schengen passport-free area "make not only highly politicised comments but also show their ignorance."

In the Slovenian political scene, too, there are those who say that Croatia's entry into the Schengen Area is also in the strategic interest of Slovenia, Božinović said in an interview with the Croatian Radio on Saturday morning.

"Being exposed to the growing migrant pressure, Croatia has met the conditions for the entry in a situation in which not any member of the Schengen has been so far. Croatia has fulfilled 270 recommendations assessed by European Commission experts and experts from the Schengen area, the minister said.

Asked whether Slovenia could block Croatia's Schengen bid and whether Ljubljana could lobby for this blockade among other EU member-states, Božinović said that it was in the EU's strategic interest to support Croatia.

In this context he recalled that Bavaria's Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrman, who visited Zagreb this past Thursday, thanked the Croatian police for protecting the European border.

On 22 October the European Commission assessed that Croatia was prepared for the entry into the Schengen area.

On that occasion, President Jean-Claude Juncker was quoted as saying that he commends Croatia "for its efforts and perseverance to meet all the necessary conditions to join Schengen. It is only through being united and standing together that we can ensure a stronger Schengen area. Sharing the achievement of Schengen must be our common objective. This is why I trust that Member States will take the right steps for Croatia to become a full Schengen member soon," Juncker said.

More news about the Schengen area can be found in the Politics section.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Croatia Confident Slovenia Will Support Its Schengen Entry

ZAGREB, October 26, 2019 - Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said on Friday he expected Slovenia to make a "wise decision" and support Croatia's Schengen entry which, he added, was also in the interest of Slovenia's authorities because it meant the EU's external border would move and become Croatia's responsibility.

"Slovenia will certainly act wisely and intelligently," he told reporters in Split in the wake of messages from Slovenia after the European Commission assessed that Croatia met the technical conditions to join the Schengen area of free travel.

He said Croatia met a score of difficult conditions to deserve that assessment, adding that Slovenia could benefit the most as protecting the EU's external border was its responsibility now. "Croatia's Schengen entry will help Slovenians the most," he said, adding that he was sure the majority of Slovenians thought the same.

Asked if during its Council of the EU presidency in the first half of 2020 Croatia would again raise the issue of enlargement to southeast Europe despite opposition from some member states, Grlić Radman said it would, but noted that it was a process which primarily depended on meeting the requirements.

"We regret the decision of some countries which didn't support launching the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania because we strongly pushed for launching the negotiation process," he said, adding that he hoped the topic would be on the agenda of an EU summit in Zagreb next year and that some policy chapters in the accession negotiations with aspirants Serbia and Montenegro would be closed by then.

More news about Croatia and the Schengen area can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Slovenia Criticises EC Decision on Croatia's Schengen Preparedness

ZAGREB, October 23, 2019 - Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said on Tuesday the European Commission's decision that Croatia met the technical conditions to join the Schengen Area was political, and insisted that Croatia implement the arbitration ruling on its border dispute with Slovenia.

"We regret that the European Commission decided on such an important matter, the assessment of Croatia's preparedness to join Schengen, just before the end of its term and that it adopted a political decision," Šarec said, according to a press release from his office.

"We expect Croatia to meet all the conditions for joining Schengen, technical and legal ones, including respect for the rule of law," he said, alluding to what Slovenian authorities consider respect for the rule of law, including the implementation of the border arbitration ruling.

Croatia does not recognise the ruling, maintaining that Slovenia irrevocably compromised the arbitration procedure.

Croatian members of the European Parliament Tonino Picula and Karlo Ressler on Tuesday welcomed the European Commission's green light for Croatia to join Schengen, while Slovenian MEP Tanja Fajon said it was an "unacceptable decision" by the outgoing Juncker Commission.

"That's good news for the Schengen Area which found itself over the past seven, eight years under attack of various circumstances which have weakened its purpose, which is to ensure free movement for European citizens and encourage more European cooperation and commitment to the European project," Picula (Social Democratic Party) told Croatian reporters in Strasbourg.

"The Commission has shown on Croatia's example that Schengen is one of the biggest European integration achievements," he said. He does not believe the political decision on Croatia's Schengen accession will be made soon and notes that "Croatia will have to keep working."

Fajon was disappointed by the Commission's decision. "We would very much like to see Croatia join Schengen, but only after it has met all the conditions. It seems that's not the reality. Reports by nongovernmental organisations reveal what happens on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina," she told Croatian and Slovenian reporters.

"This is an unacceptable decision by (Commission President) Jean-Claude Juncker," she added.

More news about relations between Croatia and Slovenia can be found in the Politics section.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

European Commission Confirms Croatia is Prepared for Schengen

ZAGREB, October 22, 2019 - The European Commission assessed on Tuesday that Croatia met the conditions for joining the Schengen Area and asked the Council of the EU to include Croatia in the area without internal border controls.

"The European Commission considers that, based on the results of the Schengen evaluation process initiated in 2016, Croatia has taken the measures needed to ensure that the necessary conditions for the full application of the Schengen rules and standards are met," a press release said.

"Croatia will need to continue working on the implementation of all ongoing actions, in particular its management of the external borders, to ensure that these conditions continue to be met. The Commission also today confirms that Croatia continues to fulfil the commitments, linked to the Schengen rules, that it undertook in the accession negotiations," the press release said.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "I commend Croatia for its efforts and perseverance to meet all the necessary conditions to join Schengen... This is why I trust that Member States will take the right steps for Croatia to become a full Schengen member soon."

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "Schengen is one of the greatest and most tangible achievements of European integration. But its strength very much depends on its inclusiveness - now that Croatia has taken the measures to ensure that the necessary conditions are met, we must recognise this. Once it becomes a full member, it will contribute to further strengthening the area and ensure that the EU's external borders are better protected."

In order to join Schengen, a country must prove that it can assume responsibility for controlling the EU's external borders on behalf of the other member states of the area and issue short sojourn visas, efficiently cooperate with the security authorities of the member states, and apply the Schengen rules such as control of external land, sea and air borders (airports), issuing of visas, police cooperation, protection of personal data, and the need to connect to and use the Schengen Information System and the Visa Information System.

Regular evaluations are conducted in Schengen member states to check if the Schengen rules are applied correctly.

The Commission's evaluation on technical preparedness is not enough for joining but it is a prerequisite for the member states to make a political decision on the accession.

Bulgaria and Romania, for instance, have had a positive evaluation since 2011 but have still not joined Schengen because there is no consensus among the member states.

Slovenia has made it clear that it is going to block Croatia's accession to the Schengen Area due to Ljubljana's dissatisfaction with the unresolved border dispute with its eastern neighbour.

Currently, the Schengen Area includes 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and other types of border control at their mutual borders. Of those 26 members, 22 are part of the European Union: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

The non-EU members covered by this passport-free area are Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The six EU member states not included in the Schengen Area are Ireland and United Kingdom, which still maintain opt-outs, and Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus, which are required to and are seeking to join soon.

Three European microstates that are not members of the European Union but which are enclaves or semi-enclave within an EU member state - Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City - are de facto part of the Schengen Area.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Tuesday the European Commission's decision that Croatia met the conditions to join the Schengen Area was another big European success for Croatia, but did not say when he expected Croatia to join.

"This is an important day and yet another big European success for Croatia," he told reporters. "In the technical sense, today we received objective verification, by the only institution in charge, that we are prepared."

Asked when Croatia would join, Plenković said he "wouldn't speculate on a precise date" but that "it's not realistic" that Croatia will join during its EU presidency in the first half of 2020.

As for Slovenia's possible blockade of Croatia's accession, he said the border dispute with Slovenia was "bilateral in nature."

"We will try to separate those bilateral topics from this one because this is a topic we should resolve with Slovenia in a different way, through dialogue and by looking for a solution with which both sides will be satisfied."

He said it was a success that Croatia did not have an additional monitoring mechanism for joining Schengen such as Romania and Bulgaria had.

More news about Croatia and the Schengen Area can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 21 October 2019

EU to Adopt Report on Croatia's Schengen Preparedness on Tuesday

ZAGREB, October 21, 2019 - European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said on Monday that the Commission would adopt a report on Croatia's compliance with the Schengen Area requirements on Tuesday.

Tomorrow the College of Commissioners will evaluate Croatia's progress in meeting the criteria required for joining the Schengen Area, she said after the chiefs-of-staff of all commissioners defined the agenda of Tuesday's Commission meeting in Strasbourg.

Numerous prerequisites must be met to join the passport-free travel area, including taking responsibility for controlling the EU's external borders, issuing visas on behalf of the area's other member states, and establishing efficient cooperation with the security authorities of the member states.

A country hoping to join must be capable of fully enforcing the Borders Code, which includes controlling the borders on land, at sea and in airports, issuing visas, police cooperation and personal data protection. The country must also be entered into the Schengen Information System.

The Commission carries out an evaluation before a country enters the Area, as well as occasionally after accession to see if the Schengen laws are being enforced. The Commission's evaluation on technical preparedness is not enough for joining but it is a prerequisite for the member states to make a political decision on the accession.

Bulgaria and Romania, for instance, have had a positive evaluation since 2011 but have still not joined Schengen because there is no consensus among the member states.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in late September that it was difficult to predict when Croatia would join Schengen but that the goal was to receive a positive evaluation by the Commission this year that Croatia had met all the criteria.

More on Croatia and the Schengen Area can be found in the Politics section.

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