The Commission has called upon the Council to take the necessary decisions without any further delay to allow Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia to fully participate in the Schengen area. While these three countries are already bound in part by the Schengen rules, they do not enjoy the full benefits that come with being part of the Schengen area without internal border controls. In a Communication adopted on 16 November, the Commission took stock of the three Member States' strong record of achievements in the application of the Schengen rules. Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia had strongly proven that they have met all these conditions. They have all the necessary tools, structures, and procedures in place to contribute to a well-functioning Schengen area.
The recent fact-finding mission to Bulgaria and Romania – coordinated by the Schengen Governance Unit of DG HOME and comprising 17 Member State experts and representatives of Frontex, Europol and the Fundamental Rights Agency – as well as the measures taken by Croatia to reinforce the protection of fundamental rights at the external border, reaffirm these countries readiness to join Schengen.
Safer and more prosperous
The Schengen area today is robust and ready for this enlargement, which in turn will contribute to further increasing its resilience. This eighth enlargement of the Schengen area will make Europe safer – through reinforced protection of our common external borders and effective police cooperation – more prosperous – by eliminating time lost at borders and facilitating people and business contacts – and more attractive – by significantly expanding the world's largest common area without internal border controls.
Shared responsibility and cooperation
Maintaining the benefits of Schengen requires common action at Union level, and constant efforts from all Member States. Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia have substantially reinforced the overall application of the Schengen rules.
The recent voluntary fact-finding mission confirmed that both Romania and Bulgaria have high-quality and strong border management and international police cooperation, demonstrating their capacity to prevent and detect cross-border crime. The Schengen Information System is also well-established for these member states. These countries are active in the fight against irregular migration and trafficking in human beings. The necessary structures are in place to ensure respect for fundamental rights.
Under the steer of the Czech Presidency, on 8 December, the Schengen Council will take a decision on the full participation of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia to the Schengen area without internal border controls.
The Schengen area is the largest free-travel area in the world, with currently 22 EU countries participating (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia), as well as 4 associated non-EU countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). Ireland maintains an opt-out on the abolition of internal border controls but participates in important parts of the Schengen architecture.
Countries wishing to join the Schengen area must undergo a full Schengen evaluation. Once this happens, unanimous approval from all other Member States applying the Schengen acquis in full is required, the European Parliament must also agree.
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What is the Schengen Area
Press release November 18 Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia ready to join Schengen
- Publication date
- 17 November 2022
- Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs