Traveling to the beautiful and alluring country of Croatia is about to get easier. This comes as European Union (E.U.) member governments agree to admit the Balkan nation into the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone.
It’s a watershed moment for Croatia. It is part of the E.U. since 2013, but has only just managed to convince the European Commission that it’s able to effectively manage its section of the bloc’s external borders, Reuters reports.
Croatia shares external borders with non-Schengen countries; Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. And is also is responsible for guarding sea access. The country has bolstered its efforts to demonstrate to the E.U. that it can prevent undocumented migrants at its borders.
“Croatia is ready”
“Croatia is ready,” European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, says. The E.U. first recommended that Croatia be part of the Schengen area back in October 2019.
The various cooperations operating across the European Continent can become rather confusing for outsiders, as Running With Miles notes. The European Union itself currently has 27 member countries (or “states”). Under that umbrella, there’s also the Eurozone agreement—a monetary confederation of 19 member states. They have adopted the Euro as their official currency and sole legal tender. Croatia reportedly wishes to join the Eurozone in the future.
Then, there’s the border-free Schengen area. It consists of 26 European nations (not necessarily E.U. members); that have chosen to abolish controls at their mutual borders and implement a common visa policy, thereby making international travel within the zone as hassle-free as possible.
The Schengen Agreement, which allows for unrestricted movement between member states, has enabled many Europeans to live and work across international borders, though the COVID-19 pandemic has largely interfered with those established policies over the past 21 months.
For American travelers, Croatia’s acceptance into the Schengen zone will mean that you can easily include Croatia into your European itinerary, and won’t need to queue up to present your passport if you’re entering from another Schengen country. In terms of visa requirements, American passport holders already need not obtain a tourist visa in order to visit Croatia.
While this development is big news in terms of expanding a united and integrated Europe, it won’t happen right away. Following Thursday’s decision, it wasn’t immediately made clear when the policy change incorporating Croatia into the Schengen area would take effect.