Making Schengen stronger with the full participation of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia in the area without internal border controls

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2022) 636
Publication Date 16/11/2022
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Communication adopted by the European Commission on 16 November 2022, taking stock of record of achievements of Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania in the application of the Schengen rules.

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The Schengen area without internal border controls is regarded among the most emblematic achievements of European integration. It started as an intergovernmental project between five EEC Member States 1985, and it gradually expanded over seven enlargement stages to become the largest area of free movement in the world.

The Schengen acquis is an integral of the European Union's legal framework, with its obligations and responsibilities, which every new Member State must accept in full as candidate for admission. They need to be prepared and have the capacity to effectively manage the external borders on behalf of all other Schengen States, and issue uniform Schengen visas. They need to be able to efficiently cooperate with law enforcement agencies in other countries and to be able to connect and use the relevant information systems in order to maintain a high level of security once there are no internal border controls. They also have to ensure that fundamental rights and data protection requirements are respected in these activities.

Full application of the Schengen acquis relies on unanimous approval from all other Member states applying the Schengen acquis in full. Significant progress and relevant political steps were registered leading to support the full application of the Schengen acquis in Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia. This has been strongly advocated by the European Parliament, and it was set as a key priority of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

This Communication takes stock of the record of achievements of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia in having taken the measures needed to ensure that the necessary conditions for the application of all relevant parts of the Schengen acquis are met, as set out in their respective Acts of Accession of 2005 and 2011. It calls upon the Council to take the necessary decisions, allowing these three countries, that are not yet fully part of the area without controls at internal borders, to join. It was adopted by the European Commission on 16 November 2022.

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Commentary and Analysis
RFE/RL, 14/11/2022: Wider Europe Briefing: Could Bulgaria and Romania Follow Croatia Into Schengen? And The Dilemma Of Free Roaming For Ukraine

News, 14/11/2022: Sweden will probably Refuse to Accept Bulgaria in Schengen
Euronews, 16/11/2022: Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania are 'ready' to join Schengen, says European Commission
EUObserver, 16/11/2022: Hurdles remain for Schengen hopefuls Bulgaria and Romania
Politico, 16/11/2022: Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania ‘ready’ for visa-free travel zone, European Commission says
Bloomberg, 16/11/2022: EU Urges Approval for Three More Nations to Join Schengen
NL Times, 16/11/2022: Netherlands under mounting pressure to allow Schengen area expansion
Romania Insider, 16/11/2022: European Commission says Romania is ready to join the Schengen area

European Commission: Migration and Home Affairs: Schengen Area
European Commission: Press Release, 16/11/2022: Making Schengen stronger: Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia are ready to fully participate in the Schengen area
European Commission: Press remarks by Commissioner Johansson on the readiness of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia to fully participate in the Schengen area (16 November 2022)
Renew EP Group: Newsroom, 16/11/2022: Schengen expansion: Let Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia in!
S&D EP Group: Newsroom, 16/11/2022: S&D Group urges Schengen Council in December to green light Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia

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