In the press In a release published on November 16, the Commission stated that Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia had contributed to the stable functioning of the Schengen area for many years, and stressed that the decision to include them in the Schengen area was long overdue.
According to the Commission, the expansion of the Schengen area without internal border controls makes Europe safer, more prosperous and attractive.
The Commission notes that Bulgaria has strict border controls that allow the country to effectively control its borders. In addition, Bulgaria prioritizes the fight against cross-border crime through international cooperation and has a well-established Schengen information system.
As for Romania, the country has a “strong and high-quality” border control. Moreover, the Commission stressed that, like Bulgaria, Romania also gives priority to the fight against illegal migration and human trafficking. The Schengen Information System is also well established in Romania.
Both Bulgaria and Romania have successfully completed the assessment process for entry into the Schengen area in 2021. However, it is noteworthy that in the last 11 years no decision has been made to expand the external borders of the Schengen area.
Members of the European Union Parliament have already called on EU members to end discrimination and allow Bulgaria and Romania join Schengen. Last month, MEPs called on the EU to take a positive decision on Bulgaria and Croatia by the end of this year.
For Croatia, in December 2021, the Council confirmed that the country had fulfilled all the necessary conditions for joining the Schengen area. The Commission stressed that Croatia has made significant efforts to ensure that external border controls comply with fundamental rights obligations.
Croatia has also established an Independent Monitoring Mechanism, becoming the first EU Member State to implement such a mechanism.
In addition to supporting Bulgaria and Romania, MEPs voted for Croatia's accession to the Schengen area. They called on the Council to also make a final decision on the matter by the end of 2022.