ZAGREB, July 27 – Croatia has received as yet unofficial information from the European Commission that it has met all technical requirements for accession to the Schengen area, Vecernji List newspaper said on Saturday, citing diplomatic sources.
Zagreb has received signals from the European Commission that the evaluation of the last of the eight chapters of the Schengen acquis will pass well, the newspaper said.
An official confirmation of Croatia’s readiness is expected most likely in the second half of September, after the Commission’s summer recess. In order for Croatia to actually join the passport-free travel area, the decision needs to be approved by the Council of the EU, that is all the member states.
Membership of the Schengen area is one of Croatia’s foreign policy priorities. Prime Minister Plenkovic has set his government a target for Croatia to join the area by 2020, when the country assumes the rotating six-month presidency of the EU.
Vecernji List noted that the path to Schengen membership may not be easy despite the green light from the Commission, as shown by the cases of Romania and Bulgaria which have met the criteria but are still kept out for political reasons. Croatia could face obstacles from Slovenia, which has hinted on several occasions that it may make its consent conditional on Croatia’s acceptance and implementation of the border arbitration ruling.
The newspaper said that Schengen would also be one of the topics discussed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and the new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to Zagreb on Tuesday.