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Croatia Starts Schengen Area Membership Application

Croatia started the process of applying for membership of the Schengen Area on Wednesday, two years to the day since becoming a member state of the European Union…

Joining the Area, named after the village of Schengen in Luxembourg where the Schengen Agreement, which led to the Area’s creation, was signed, entails eliminating internal border controls with the other Schengen members, while simultaneously strengthening external border controls with non-Schengen states.

Chaired by Minister of Internal Affairs Ranko Ostojić, the Committee on the Coordination and Supervision of the Schengen Instrument held its eighth session yesterday, discussing the Schengen evaluation process. A European Commission questionnaire is the first part of the process, and the Committee will have until August to complete it. Croatia had to wait two years once becoming an EU member before it could apply for membership of the Schengen Area.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović says that entering the Schengen area was important for the country, especially as Croatia relied heavily on tourism and said free movement of its guests from the European Union was paramount.

The evaluation and monitoring process for Croatia, which will include visits from EU officials in 2016 to monitor such aspects as external borders, the Schengen information system and visa polices, is expected to take one year.

Schengen Area members will then vote on the admission of new entrants.

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