The Czech EU Presidency and European Commission on Thursday expressed satisfaction and congratulated Croatia on its outstanding success after a decision vote for it to join the Schengen Area of passport-free travel, voicing disappointment on the lack of consensus on Bulgaria and Romania's bids.
Congratulations to Croatia on this enormous success, Czech Minister of the Interior Vít Rakusan said, commending the Croatian Ministry of the Interior and Minister Davor Bozinovic in particular.
They did great work at the diplomatic level and at our bilateral meetings. We had excellent cooperation, and this is a joint success of the Croatian minister and the Czech Presidency, Rakusan said.
He said that Croatia’s Schengen entry was also a big success for the Czech Presidency, as Czechs like to visit Croatia. This success was also crucial on the home policy front.
He said that our citizens are looking forward to arriving in Croatia without border checks next summer.
Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson welcomed Croatia.
I congratulate Croatia and its citizens. You deserve to be a full member of the Schengen area, we now have a decision to that effect, and you are more than welcome, Johansson said.
At the same time, Rakusan and Johansson expressed dissatisfaction due to the lack of consensus on Bulgaria and Romania’s Schengen entry.
Austria was against the entry of both countries, while the Netherlands supported Romania but not Bulgaria.
I would be lying if I said that I am not disappointed. I share the disappointment of the citizens of Bulgaria and Romania who deserve to be part of the area of free movement, Johansson said.
She expressed hope that the two countries would join the Schengen Area by the end of the term of the current Commission, that is, the autumn of 2024.
Rakusan said he was grateful to the coming Swedish EU Presidency for saying it would continue working on the job started by the Czech Presidency and include further Schengen enlargement among its priorities.
Asked by reporters if there had been a danger that the consensus on Croatia could be jeopardised by the lack of consensus on Bulgaria and Romania, Rakusan said that he prevented any such attempt.
According to diplomatic sources, Germany and Luxembourg tried to exert pressure on Austria and the Netherlands by saying that all three countries should be admitted or none, but they eventually gave up the effort.