No doubt about Eurozone membership, decision on entry into Schengen area can be expected in autumn

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Addressing the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the Council of the EU would next week send a draft decision on Croatia's admission to the Schengen area on 1 January 2023, and the final decision could be adopted this autumn.

Next week the Council will send a formal proposal for the decision to be taken on Croatia's membership of the Schengen area to the European Parliament, said the premier.

The decision on the entry into the Schengen area is adopted unanimously by the Council of the EU, and the procedure also includes the request for the opinion of the EP before a final decision.

Plenković says he hopes that the European Parliament will soon vote on its position on this proposal and that during the Czech presidency of the EU this autumn, the final decision on Croatia's membership of the Schengen area will be adopted.

Deeper integrations

Thus, at the start of 2023, Croatia is likely to join both the euro zone and Schengen zone, which is part of the country's plan to become a part of deeper integrations in Europe, according to Plenković, who held his speech within the EP discussions on the topic "This is Europe."

Plenković underscored that the European Union had made unprecedentedly response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with new NextGenerationEU instrument for the recovery from the pandemic that it adopted to assist the economy.

After that, the Russian aggression against Ukraine literally altered the current order of things in the world, he noted.

Plenković said that Russia's narrative justifying the aggression, which denies the Ukrainian identity and claims that the goal of the "special action" was the denazification of the country, resembles a similar narrative used by the Slobodan Milošević regime in Serbia in the 1990s when Croatia was also a victim of the Greater Serbia aggression.

In that context, Ukraine applied for membership and I was the first to support it because I know how much it means to their leaders and the Ukrainian people, Plenković said, adding that a decision on candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova and conditionally for Georgia would be made at a "historic summit" on Thursday and Friday.

Plenković warned that the countries of Southeast Europe, especially Bosnia and Herzegovina, must not be forgotten.

Croatia supports candidate status for BiH but stressed the need to change the electoral law to ensure the equality of the Croatian people.

Plenković said that it would be a historic injustice if BiH was not granted candidate status.

These are clear and friendly views. Croatia will be the first to wholeheartedly support candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plenković said.

He added that Russia's invasion of Ukraine threatened the world order as it had existed until then.

The consequences are affecting us all. We have an energy crisis, increased prices of raw materials, food, of building materials. No one has been left untouched, Plenković said.

Commenting on the proposal to abolish unanimous decision-making in the EU Council, which is one of the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Plenković said that the vast majority, 97% or 98% of decisions are made unanimously, but that in some issues member states have different positions, for which a compromise can be found.

At the same time, he condemned the use of consensus for blackmail and conditioning as "a bad policy".

Text: Hina