"I am grateful that the intensive lobbying about Croatia's involvement in this debate had an impact because this discussion was made at the request of my political group, S&D! Entry into Schengen is a strategic goal for Croatia, and we expect to meet the criteria by the end of next year", said Tonino Picula, who was nominated for S&D's shadow rapporteur on two opinions of the Committee on foreign affairs for Schengen.
MEP Picula welcomed this decision: "I always emphasize the importance of Schengen's enlargement to Croatia, which has the longest external border of the European Union. By enhancing protection at our external border, Croatia can contribute to effective migration management and therefore our entry into the Schengen area must not be endangered by the attempts of bilateral blockades! "
After the State of the Union speech held in front of the European Parliament, Croatia has been encouraged to join the Schengen zone as soon as possible, as the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed that, with Bulgaria and Romania, "Croatia should also become a full member of the Schengen area the moment when we meet all the criteria".
Preparing for entry into Schengen, Croatia has used almost all the money that the European Union has made available for that purpose. With 120 million euros border police stations were built or renewed, vehicles, boats, helicopters for border control, thermovision cameras along with explosive detectors and counterfeit detection devices were purchased.