The European Union agreed on Thursday to let Croatia join the continent’s check-free travel zone known as the Schengen area, but the wait continued for Bulgaria and Romania as their requests will be considered in the next official meeting.
“The Schengen area is growing for the first time in more than a decade,” the Czech Republic, which holds the EU presidency at the moment, tweeted from their official government handle.
“Ministers approved Croatia’s membership as of 1 January 2023!” the tweet further stated.
The Schengen area allows any person to travel freely within the member countries. It comprises of 26 countries — 22 EU states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
“When it comes to the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, we are not united and that makes us very weak and that makes me also sad,” Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told reporters.
“You deserve to be full members of Schengen, you deserve to have access to the free movement in the Schengen area,” Johansson said before adding that a number of ministers supported the two nations.
Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007 while Croatia became a part in 2013. However, a lack of unity in the decision between the two nations has resulted in Croatia gaining access ahead of them.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and other members of the cabinet took to social media to express their pleasure. “Croatia is in Schengen!” Deputy Prime Minister Davor Božinović tweeted.