On Wednesday, the EU Council proposed that border controls at Croatia's land and sea borders with Schengen countries be abolished from 1 January 2023, and at airports from 26 March next year.
There are technical reasons for the different dates for the abolition of air traffic controls.
At airports in the Schengen countries, it is necessary to change the gates for aircraft arriving and departing from Croatia in order to separate passengers, i.e. to direct them to exits without border controls.
On Wednesday, the Council of the European Union sent a draft decision on "full implementation of the Schengen acquis in the Republic of Croatia" to the European Parliament, accompanied by a letter to Parliament Speaker Roberta Metsoli requesting an opinion as soon as possible.
The draft decision also states that from 1 January 2023, all restrictions on the use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) will be lifted.
The decision-making procedure for access to Schengen provides for the opinion of the European Parliament to be sought before a final decision of the Council of the EU.
This opinion is not binding on the Council, but it is a procedural step that cannot be circumvented.
The decision to initiate the procedure was made on Wednesday at a meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper), which consists of ambassadors of EU member states.
In the absence of any unforeseen obstacles, Croatia would thus become a member of the Schengen area and the eurozone, the two closest integrations that form the core of the entire Union, in the tenth year of its membership in the EU.