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ZAGREB (Croatia), October 23 (SeeNews) - The European Commission said it is recommending the EU's newest member Croatia for entry into Schengen after the country has provided all necessary conditions for the full application of the rules and standards of the bloc's free-travel area.
"I commend Croatia for its efforts and perseverance to meet all the necessary conditions to join Schengen. It is only through being united and standing together that we can ensure a stronger Schengen area," the Commission's outgoing president Jean-Claude Juncker said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Sharing the achievement of Schengen must be our common objective. This is why I trust that Member States will take the right steps for Croatia to become a full Schengen member soon," Juncker added.
The Commission, however, underlined that the Adriatic state will need to continue working on the implementation of all ongoing actions, in particular its management of the external borders, to ensure that it continues to meet Schengen rules and standards.
Croatia lies on one of the preferred routes of Asian and Middle Eastern migrants, passing through its eastern neighbour Bosnia and Herzegovina and trying to reach the EU's richest states.
"Croatia will need to continue working to ensure the consistent implementation of all ongoing actions in this field," the Commission said, referring to the field of external border management.
It said that Croatia had already successfully completed in the past the full implementation of the Schengen rules in the areas of data protection, police cooperation, common visa policy, return, the Schengen Information System (SIS), firearms and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
Croatia was hoping to enter the Schengen area before the start of its six-month presidency of the Council of the EU in January 2020.
Yet, the final decision on its entry now depends on the Council of the European Union, i. e. on the governments of all EU member states.
Here, however, a possible obstacle to the final decision might come from neighbouring Slovenia, which has threatened to block Croatia's progress over an old unresolved dispute concerning Slovenia's sea access through the Piran Bay.
Several days before the Commission's decision, the Slovenian representatives in the European Parliament have sent a letter, saying Croatia lacks the technical and legal capacity to protect the Schengen area and seeking a delay of the decision.