Bulgaria, Romania bids to join Schengen area blocked: Officials
EU approves Croatia joining the border check-free Schengen area.
Bids by Bulgaria and Romania to join Europe's border check-free Schengen area were blocked in an EU ministers' meeting Thursday, although Croatia's bid was approved, officials confirmed.
"I'm also disappointed" by the outcome for Bulgaria and Romania, EU Home Affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson, told journalists after the meeting.
According to Johansson, the two nations "deserve to be full members of Schengen" and further efforts will be made to get them there within the next two years.
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Croatia bid to join Schengen area approved
In a related context, Croatia announced that the EU has approved its joining the border check-free Schengen area after Zagreb convinced Brussels that it was able to effectively manage its section of the bloc's external borders.
The step for Croatia, which became an EU member in 2013 and also wants to join the single-currency eurozone, has long been a sensitive issue due to migration.
In October, the Croatian authorities acknowledged that its police officers had participated in a violent pushback of migrants on the border with Bosnia, denying them the right to request asylum in the EU.
"Last step completed! (EU) Council decision adopted - It is now formally confirmed that Croatia joins (the) Schengen area as of 1 January 2023," Croatia's diplomatic mission to the EU tweeted.
Last step completed! Council decision adopted - It is now formally confirmed that #Croatia joins #Schengen area as of 1 January 2023. 🇭🇷🇪🇺 #JHA 👏🏻👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/X6rgKVKOFu— Croatia in the EU (@CroatiaInEU) December 8, 2022
The decision, confirmed by the Czech presidency of the European Union, will bring the total number of European countries in Schengen to 27 -- 23 EU member countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.
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