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17 Oct 2018

Croatia hopeful it will join the Schengen Area by 2020

Croatia hopeful it will join Schengen Area by 2020The Republic of Croatia hopes to join the border-free Schengen Area by 2020, due to expectations to meet the technical criteria by the end of this year.

According to a senior official of the Croatian Interior Ministry, after Croatia meets the technical criteria, the European Commission will then assess if they are ready for joining the territory.

“Our goal is to meet all the technical criteria by the end of this year. The European Commission must then assess if we’re ready to join which we hope it will do before the next elections for the European Parliament next May,” Terezija Gras, state secretary in the Interior Ministry, told Reuters in an interview.

If the European Commission gives the green light to Croatia’s accession to the area, Schengen member countries will then have to approve the decision politically.

Gras believes that becoming part of the border-free European Area would help Croatia to improve security.

“Control over the EU’s external borders is the most demanding aspect of our preparations. We have already fully equipped our border with Serbia and now we’re doing it on the border with Bosnia,” Gras claims, adding that free movement of people would help boost tourism in the country, thus benefiting the economy.

The statement that “Croatia will join the Schengen Area as soon as it meets the technical criteria,” has often been reiterated by European officials. The Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic himself had asserted in April this year, that Croatia would meet the technical criteria to enter the Schengen Area by the end of 2018.

The Eastern European country is one of the only four European Union member states who are not members of the Schengen zone, but are rather considered as prospective members alongside Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania.

Croatia is the last of the four to be admitted into the European Union in 2013. Its bid to join the EU in 2009 was blocked due to the border dispute with neighboring Slovenia, which could this time hinder Croatia’s accession into the Schengen Zone.

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