Thursday, 8 July 2021

European Parliament Confirms that Croatia Meets All Conditions for Schengen

ZAGREB, 8 July 2021 - Croatia has met all the conditions to Schengen, it is said in a resolution of the European Parliament adopted on Thursday in which Croatia is also urged to address shortcomings in terms of providing border staff with training and to persist in a thorough assessment of respect for fundamental rights.

During a visit to Croatia in November 2020, the Commission reaffirmed that the necessary conditions for the application of the Schengen acquis had been met, it is said in the resolution of the European Parliament, adopted with 505 votes in favor, 134 against, and 54 abstentions.

All but two Croatian MEPs voted in favor of the resolution. Those two who voted against were an MEP of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), Ladislav Ilčić, and independent MEP Mislav Kolakušić.

The Parliament also called on Croatia to address the identified shortcomings, especially in terms of staff training, the number of staff, and the capacity to protect the land border and to persist in a thorough assessment of respect for fundamental rights following repeated reports by NGOs and the media on abuse, violence, and pushbacks by border police officers.

In that context, the document welcomes the establishment of independent mechanisms to monitor the actions of police officers towards illegal migrants and applicants for international protection.

Croatia expects that its membership in the Schengen area could be on the agenda during Slovenia's presidency of the EU in the second half of this year, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in late May.

In October 2019, the Commission said that Croatia had met the criteria for joining the Schengen area while in early June it invited EU countries to admit Croatia to the Schengen area.

All EU countries except Croatia, Bulgaria, and Romania are members of Schengen, as are four non-EU countries -- Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

Violence against migrants

The resolution also says that there are still allegations of violence against migrants, including those seeking international protection, and of illegal pushbacks at the EU's external borders, but no member states are explicitly mentioned.

In that context, it is stressed that the EU does not have a developed mechanism for monitoring fundamental rights at its external borders, which should change.

The Parliament is deeply concerned due to constant and serious reports on violence and pushbacks at the external border, including from one member state to another and then to a third country.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Portugal Supports Croatia's Schengen Membership Bid, Says Grlić Radman

ZAGREB, 27 May 2021 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman, who held talks with his Portuguese counterpart in Lisbon on Wednesday, said that Portugal supported Croatia's efforts to join the passport-free Schengen Area, as well as to enter the OECD and the MED7, an alliance of Mediterranean EU member states.

Portugal has expressed unreserved support for Croatia in that regard, Minister Grlić Radman told Hina after he held the hour-long talks with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva in Lisbon.

Grlić Radman recalled that during his recent visit to Madrid, Spain's officials also expressed support for Croatia's Schengen membership bid and plans to join MED7.

MED 7 or EuroMed 7 is a group consisting of Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta, and their ministers meet once a year to discuss topics of common interest and harmonize their positions. The group was established in 2013 at the proposal of Spain and Cyprus.

The next meeting of MED 7 is likely to be organized in Greece this autumn, and Grlić Radman said in Lisbon that he hoped that Croatia and Slovenia, which also aspire for MED7 membership, could attend that ministerial gathering.

The admission of Croatia and Slovenia to that association will bolster the Mediterranean cooperation, the Croatian minister said.

Portugal is the chair of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2021, and on Thursday, a Gymnich meeting, an informal meeting of the foreign ministers of the EU member states, will take place in Lisbon. EU-Africa relations, the unresolved conflicts in the EU's Eastern Neighbourhood and the Indo-Pacific region will be on the agenda. There will also be an exchange of views with the Jordanian Foreign Affairs Minister, Ayman Al Safadi, who has been invited to take part in the working lunch.

Grlić Radman, who will attend that meeting, said that he had congratulated Minister Santos Silva on the successful Portuguese EU presidency.

Croatian-Portuguese relations excellent, TAP introduces direct Lisbon-Zagreb flight service

Considering the Croatian-Portuguese relations, Grlić Radman described them as excellent without any outstanding issues.

He thanked Santos Silva for the prompt Portuguese assistance after the 29 December 6.2 strong quake hit central Croatia.

"We discussed economic cooperation. There is room for its advancement," Grlić Radman said.

TAP Air Portugal, the state-owned flag carrier airline of Portugal, will restore the direct flights between Lisbon and Zagreb on 2 June, after it had ceased operating that line more than five years ago.

We are looking forward to that service, the Croatian minister said.

In 2019, 65,570 Portuguese visitors traveled to Croatia, and in 2020, their number fell to 7,122  due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the data provided by the Croatian National Tourist Board.

Grlić Radman also welcomed the Portuguese authorities' decision to relax rules for the entry of Croatians into Portugal. Currently, travelers arriving from Croatia into Portugal are required to have a negative PCR test to coronavirus and need no quarantine.

The two ministers discussed the developments in the Western Balkans and the EU enlargement to that part of Europe.

The European security and stability depend on the admission of those countries in the European space, and this is also important in the light of reducing the influence of third countries on Western Balkan countries, the Croatian minister said. 

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Brexit Brits in Croatia - MUP's Guidelines in Event of Any Scenario

MUP has finally spoken!

Where do things stand for you as British citizens lawfully resident in the Republic of Croatia? 

* When this article was first written, it was a draft law. This law was fully adopted in July 2019 and will come into force in the case of a no deal Brexit*

If you see a little * and italic font at the end of or underneath a sentence written by MUP, that's our little comment to give you our advice on the matter, too.

RESIDENCE:

Residence registration is very important in the case of any scenario for future relations between the European Union and the UK.
 
Therefore, all UK citizens and their family members residing in the Republic of Croatia are strongly recommended to register their residence as a British/EU citizen/apply for a residence card as a family member of a British/EU citizen.

Please click here and click on the following links: Form 1b, (for EU citizens, this needs to be clicked on for British nationals too) Form 2b (for family members of EU/British citizens who are third country nationals), of Form 3b for both EU/British citizens and his/her family members who want to apply for permanent residence.

* Please note that permanent residence can be applied for only after five years of lawful, uninterrupted temporary stay in the Republic of Croatia, you can have changed your address as many times as you like, but you must have been registered as legally living on Croatian territory for five years on an uninterrupted basis. Lawful, uninterrupted residency can be shown when applying for permanent residence with every ID card you've held, as the dates on them will attest to the five year time period. Some MUP officials claim you cannot apply for permanent residence until your temporary residence expires, others say you must be in possession of a temporary residence card which is still valid at the time of application. We advise you go to MUP and ask about your case individually, as they seem to alter this rule depending on who you talk to.

* According to EU law, the right to permanent residence ''after five years'' actually means five years + one day, but once again, MUP can misinterpret this and assume you need to come and start the process before the temporary residence expires. Don't leave it up to fate. At least go and ask in person before your temporary residence card expires.

* If you were not given an automatic five year residence permit when you first applied for some reason or another, and when you've renewed your temporary residence the official has taken your old ID card from you, there is no need to worry. Present the ID card you have and your legal residence will show up when a case worker checks you out to approve your permanent residence application.
 
Once the applicants have completed the registration of a temporary residence in accordance with the provisions of the Aliens Act (OG 130/11, 74/13, 69/17 and 46/18), they will be immediately issued with a Registration Certificate registration of a temporary residence in paper form, free of charge. If they wish, they can apply for a residence card (for which the administrative fee is to be paid in the amount of HRK 79.50).

* We strongly recommend you pay for the residence card, the white sheet of paper is merely confirmation of your residence/address, the residence card has your photo and details on it and acts as ID in Croatia. It is also weatherproof and easier to carry around on your person, which, just like nationals, you must and can be fined for not being able to present a form of ID if asked to by the police.
 
UK citizens who apply for permanent residence will be issued with residence cards (for which the administrative fee is to be paid in the amount of HRK 79.50).
 
Family members of UK nationals, who are not nationals of an EU Member State, are required to apply for a residence card/permanent residence card as a family member (for which the administrative fee is to be paid in the same amount of HRK 79.50).
 
UK citizens and their family members can register their residence at a police administration/police station according to their place of residence (The list of police administrations/police stations is available here).
 
The registration of residence and the relevant documents are a clear proof that their holder is a citizen of the United Kingdom or a family member [of said British national] who has already resided in the Republic of Croatia before the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union.
 
DRIVING LICENSES:
 
Starting from the day on which the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland leaves the European Union, UK driving licenses will be subject to regulations concerning foreign driving licenses.
 
UK driving licenses will be valid in the Republic of Croatia for up to one year from the day that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland leaves the European Union. After that, they will have to be replaced with Croatian driving licenses and the applicant will have to submit a certificate of medical fitness to drive.
 
UK nationals and nationals of other countries who are holders of UK driving licenses are advised to apply for the replacement of their driving licenses with a Croatian driving license as soon as possible.

Applicants who submit their application before the date on which the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland leaves the European Union will be able to replace their UK driving licenses under the conditions set for the replacement of EEA driving licenses in which case it is not necessary to submit a certificate of medical fitness to drive.
 
Both the EU driving licenses and the former paper driving licenses are equally recognised.
 
UK driving licenses are replaced with Croatian driving licenses without any obligation to take a driving exam/test, regardless of the category of vehicle listed on the UK driving license.

Border checks on persons at the EU external border (This section does not apply for travel in the Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom and Ireland):

EU law on border checks at the EU external borders on persons distinguishes between the control of EU citizens and of third country nationals. As of the withdrawal date, the control of UK nationals on entry and exit from the Schengen area as well as to and from Member States for which the decision on lifting internal controls has not yet been taken, but which apply Schengen rules at their external borders, will follow the rules for third country nationals.

(Please note that UK nationals who are members of the family of an EU citizen exercising their right to free movement are subject to the rules set out in Article 5 of Directive 2004/38 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77.) On 29 April 2004, the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77.)

This means that they will no longer enjoy facilitations at the borders provided for EU citizens, nationals of the contracting states of the European Economic Area, and Swiss nationals ("EU / EEA / CH citizens") related to the free movement rights. In particular, UK citizens will not be entitled to use the separate lanes provided for EU / EEA / CH citizens to carry out checks at border crossings and will be subject to thorough checks of all entry conditions for third country nationals upon entry.

The entry checks for UK citizens will include verification of:
 
The possession of a valid travel document for crossing the border; the document must have a validity of no more than ten years, and shall remain valid for three months after the intended departure from the Member States; (Please note that UK national passports issued before the withdrawal date remain valid travel documents).
 
The duration of the stay:

For short stays in the Schengen area, UK citizens will be subject to restrictions on the authorised duration of stay within the Schengen area (with a maximum of 90 days in 180 days); for long stays, they will in principle require a residence permit or a long-stay visa issued by national authorities, under the national rules; The identity and the nationality of the third country national and of the authenticity and validity of the travel document for crossing the border, and in particular, if an alert has been issued in the Schengen Information System (SIS) for the purpose of refusing entry and checking potential threats to public policy, internal security, public health and international relations; the purpose (eg tourism or work) and the conditions of the intended stay (eg accommodation, internal travels); the existence of sufficient means of subsistence (i.e. having sufficient means to pay for the intended stay and return travel). ("Schengen-visa"), when the transitional period for the stay in the United Kingdom is reduced by the amount of the short-stay visa ("Schengen-visa"), on 13 November 2018 the Schengen area is 90 days within a 180-day period and it is now up to the European Parliament and the Council to adopt this proposal. - visa requirements, following the visa reciprocity principle.)

Travelers are advised to confirm, prior to travel, the validity of travel documents and to ensure that they fulfill all the above conditions before they travel to the EU. The non-fulfillment of any of the entry conditions may result in refusal of entry issued in accordance with the procedure laid down in Union law with respect to third country nationals.

Checks on exit include verification of:

The possession of a valid travel document for crossing the external border; verification that the person did not exceed the maximum duration of stay in the territory of the Member States; relevant databases similarly as upon entry checks.

WHAT DOES THIS JARGON ACTUALLY MEAN?

In short, this is nothing we haven't advised before and we applaud MUP for confirming things.

Make sure you're registered and in possession of a residence card which acts as proof of your lawful residence in the Republic of Croatia before the United Kingdom's withdrawal (if it ever happens) from the EU. In other words, these act as your acquired rights that you were entitled to before a law change, ie, your EU treaty rights.

Apply for permanent residence when you hit the magic five year mark.

Switch your driving license over to a Croatian one now, even though you don't need to right away, why bother with the headache?

You won't be able to use the EU lanes when arriving in an EU country using a British passport anymore.

Croatia is not in Schengen, but when travelling to and from Schengen, you might be subjected to more questions than you're used to.

If your passport is nearing its end, apply for a new one now to save you the bother.

We'd like to thank MUP, all sarcasm aside, for setting out some guidelines. This means that all Brits who have legally resided in Croatia, still live here, and have proof of that, will be fine even in the event of a No Deal Brexit. If May's Withdrawal Agreement manages to pass, then that will come into force. Click here to read that. If Brexit is delayed (likely), or Article 50 is revoked (unlikely, but possible), keep up with us for info.

Make sure to follow our dedicated politics page for much more on Brexit. Sign up to email alerts from the British Embassy in Zagreb for any alterations. Click here for MUP's post.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Government: Croatia Getting Closer to Entry into Schengen

Croatia has used 97 percent of EU funds allocated for entry into Schengen Area.

Friday, 16 December 2016

European Council Accepts Croatia’s Proposal Regarding Schengen

Croatian Prime Minister Plenković expressed satisfaction that Croatia’s proposal had been accepted.

Friday, 29 July 2016

EU Extends Deadline for Croatia to Use Money from Schengen Facility

The deadline for Croatia to use EU funds to prepare to enter the Schengen Area has been extended for a year.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Croatia Hopes to Enter Schengen Area after 2018

While some countries are leaving the EU, others hope for more integration.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Schengen Visas and Entry to Croatia after July 1: An Update from the Ministry

We are receiving quite a few emails asking what happens after July 1 on a number of topics. Apart from being able to state that one may no longer find the brand prosek, or a restaurant which serves olive oil in a jug - according to EU regulations and decisions - we are as much in the dark as anyone. 

A rare piece of enlightenment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, however, as the visa advice section was updated, with special attention to the important Russian tourism market. At the end of the update, the information that all Schengen visa holders can enter Croatia without additional paperwork requirements. The update in full: 

"Since it is set to join the European Union on 1 July 2013, Croatia’s visa policy is fully harmonized with that of the EU as of 1 April. This means that from that date onwards the classic visa regime will apply for the citizens of Russia and Turkey as well as citizens of all those countries that need visa for entering the EU member countries.

However, due to the importance of the Russian market, which in recent years has shown a significant increase in tourist traffic, Croatia is trying to shorten and simplify the visa issuance procedure as much as possible.

For entering Croatia, Russian citizens will be issued visas in a speedy manner (generally no longer than five days after the application is received). Multiple-entry visas can also be issued. Visa fee remains 35 EUR.

Russian citizens, after submitting the application at the Croatian Embassy in Moscow, will also be able to obtain visas through accredited tourist agencies at the embassy as well as through visa centres throughout Russia. After a public tender, VFS Global was chosen as the best applicant and will soon be signed an agreement with. We expect around 150,000 visa applications annually, so visa centres will greatly facilitate the procedure.

Since the number of tourists from Ukraine and Turkey is also growing each year, preparations similar to those in Moscow are underway at the Croatian embassies in Kiev and Ankara as well as the consulate general in Istanbul.

Pursuant to the Government’s decision, from 1 January until 31 December 2013 all aliens holders of valid Schengen documents do not require an additional (Croatian) visa for entry and short-term stay in Croatia."

For the latest official advice on visa requirements, click here.

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