The Council will now have to decide on the lifting of border controls
On Thursday, the MEPs supported the lifting of internal border controls between the space Schengen and her Croatia.
In a report approved with 534 votes in favor, 53 against and 25 abstentions, the European Parliament voted in favor of Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area. On 9 December 2021, the Council confirmed that Croatia meets all the necessary conditions for the full implementation of Schengen rules. MEPs are now calling on the Council to continue the process and adopt its final decision on lifting border controls.
Fundamental rights must be respected
To ensure that fundamental rights are respected at the EU’s external borders, the EP calls on Croatia to inform the Parliament and the Council on how it has implemented its action plan (see Commission communication for more details) on the management of the EU’s external borders, and in particular the independent monitoring mechanism of police actions. Following complaints of push-backs at the Croatian border, MEPs want the Commission to assess aspects of external border management and fundamental rights in Croatia (including through on-site visits) as part of the Schengen evaluation programme.
The European Parliament has long advocated the enlargement of the Schengen area, which currently includes 26 states: all EU member states except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania, as well as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein which are not members of the EU. In 2018, the EP stated that Croatia should be admitted to Schengen once it meets the necessary criteria. On 18 October 2022, he also expressed his support for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen without delay.
After the vote, the rapporteur Paulo Rangel (EPP, Portugal) said: “Croatia has undergone the most thorough evaluation compared to any other EU country for its accession to the Schengen area. It has satisfied the conditions of 281 recommendations in 8 areas of legislation concerning the Schengen area. The Commission and the Council confirmed the country’s willingness to fully implement the rules of the Schengen area. The European Parliament fully agrees that the lifting of internal border controls must take place by the end of this year.”
The final decision to lift internal controls must be taken unanimously by the Council of the EU.
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