Croatia meets all Schengen criteria, says European Parliament rapporteur

Croatia meets all Schengen criteria, says European Parliament rapporteur

There is no reason why Croatia cannot join the Schengen area as it meets all the criteria, stated the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the subject during a meeting of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee.

EU leaders backed Croatia’s entry into the passport-free zone last December, although a final formal decision is still pending.

Although Parliament has only an advisory role in this process, comments made by Portuguese MEP Paulo Rangel to the committee on Monday seem to confirm that Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013, is on the right track, on 1 January.

Mr Rangel, who visited Croatia including its border areas last week, informed the committee “Border security and respect for fundamental rights are very satisfactory”.

The Czech EU Presidency has also said it will try to ensure that the final green light is given before its term expires in December.

Zagreb’s membership in this area of ​​free movement without internal border controls has long been a sensitive issue due to concerns about Croatia’s treatment of migrants and refugees.

Some NGOs have accused the country of trying too hard to prove its ability to protect EU borders and using excessive force to push back migrants.

Croatia admitted in October that its police had taken part in violent operations to push back migrants on the border with neighboring Bosnia, a non-member country of the Union.

Responding to comments from MPs that there had been reports of rape and torture of migrants by Croatian police, Mr Rangel said: “I didn’t say there aren’t problems, all countries on the external borders have them, but claims that migrants have been raped and tortured are not accurate.”.

A EURACTIV team that visited one of Croatia’s borders with Bosnia in October 2021 reported that local officials and direct testimony from migrants pointed to systematic unlawful acts of violence at the border and refoulement by Croatian police.

Reference: www.euractiv.fr

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