European Union leaders, who gathered for a summit in Brussels on Thursday, are expected to welcome an agreement on changing the Schengen rules which would introduce systematic checks at the EU's external borders while Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic stressed that he wants equal treatment within and outside the Schengen Area.
"The European Council welcomes the agreement on the revised Schengen Borders Code enforcing systematic controls on all travellers crossing EU external borders," notes the draft conclusions that are expected to be adopted by EU officials at the summit.
That political agreement should undergo regular EU legislative procedure and be enacted by June next year with regard to the Entry/Exit System. Also, a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is expected to ensure that visa-exempt travellers are screened systematically.
In Early December, EU member states and the EU Parliament reached an agreement on introducing systematic checks of information systems and data bases of all persons entering and exiting the Schengen Area, including EU citizens.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, the European Commission in December proposed the introduction of systematic checks of everyone entering the EU in an effort to increase security. Systematic checks were mandatory for citizens of third countries entering the EU and now that obligation is being introduced when exiting the EU and of all EU citizens too.
Even though the conclusions clearly refer to controls on the EU 's external borders, it remains unclear how Croatia is to act as it has not yet accessed the Schengen Area information system. Slovenia too would not be able to conduct these controls as its border with Croatia as this is the Schengen border.
Arriving at the summit Plenkovic said that he wants equal treatment of all member states within and outside the Schengen Area.
"We want the same treatment of all states within and outside Schengen considering that Croatia is preparing for the Schengen system and that we have absorbed a major part of the funding for that purpose. We do not want any possible decisions that could be adopted to operationally or financially cause problems on the borders to other EU member states, primarily Hungary and Slovenia and we will strongly advocate that," Plenkovic said, adding that Croatia has ambitions to be interoperable within the entire system on the EU external border.
Slovenia's Prime Minister Miro Cerar said that it was necessary to account for proportionality with regard to implementing systematic checks on the borders.
"This has to do with the security of citizens and we agree. We warn, however, that stricter controls of travellers, EU citizens on the external borders, need to account for the principle of proportionality so that it does not hamper economic routes across borders," Cerar said.