08:21 GMT 13.09.2017 (updated 10:21 GMT 13.09.2017) Get a short URL
The President of the European Commission has called for the strengthening of the EU's external borders and the inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in the Schengen zone, and added that Brussels must offer the Western Balkans a credible prospect of enlargement.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Both Bulgaria and Romania should be quickly included in the visa-free Schengen area of Europe, said President of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, on Wednesday, adding that Croatia also has full membership in the Zone deserves.
"If we want to have a stronger European Union, it has to be more inclusive. If we rightly want to strengthen our external borders, it is high time to bring Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area. Croatia deserves it too." Full membership in the Schengen area as soon as all criteria are met, "said Juncker.
"If we want more stability in our neighborhood than we have to offer the Western Balkans a credible perspective for enlargement," added Juncker.
The Schengen area currently comprises 26 European countries that have agreed to abolish border control. Bulgaria and Romania, as well as Croatia and Cyprus, want to join the area, while the United Kingdom, which is negotiating with the EU on the terms of the UK's exit from the bloc, and Ireland have refused to remove border control.
At the beginning of this year, Croatia joined the Schengen Information System (SIS) as part of the process of joining the Schengen system. The SIS is currently fully operational in 22 of 28 EU Member States, both in compliance with the Schengen Agreement and non-Schengen countries such as Bulgaria, Romania and the United Kingdom.