Croatia joins Schengen zone next year

Croatia joins Schengen zone next year
Credit: Belga

European interior ministers have given the go-ahead for Croatia’s accession to the Schengen zone, the EU's Czech presidency reported on Thursday on Twitter. Croatia will join the zone on Jan. 1 next year.

Much to their frustration, Romania and Bulgaria will need to exercise even more patience.

It is the first time in more than a decade that the European area without internal borders will expand.

New Year’s Day will also be a special day for Croatia itself since, in addition to joining Schengen, it will introduce the euro on that day.

For Bulgaria and Romania, it will be a painful day. Both countries joined the European Union in 2007 and have belonged to the club for six years longer than Croatia. However, they are still in the Schengen zone waiting room and will remain so for some time. Austria and the Netherlands again blocked the accession of Bucharest and Sofia on Thursday.

Within the Schengen zone, internal border controls have been abolished. That presupposes, however, that the 26 participating countries shield their borders with the rest of the world.

Besides Bulgaria and Romania, only Ireland and Cyprus are members of the European Union but not of the Schengen zone. As islands, those countries find themselves in a special situation.

Non-EU member States Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also members of Schengen.

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