After several years, joint border controls at the Bregana border crossing will be temporarily suspended.
“To speed up the flow of passenger traffic, the Croatian side has proposed to Slovenia that, during the tourist season and until 1 October 2017, the Croatian border police should perform separate border controls at the Bregana border crossing. In that way, the border police of each country, according to the intensity of traffic and structure of passengers, could open a larger number of incoming/outbound traffic lanes,” announced the Croatian Police Directorate asked whether the Croatian border police was being withdrawn back to its border control posts, which would mean the termination of the so-called “one-stop” joint border controls between Croatia and Slovenia, reports Jutarnji List on June 1, 2017.
The Police Directorate claims that this move will not further slow down border controls. However, former Interior Minister Ranko Ostojić (SDP), now chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs and National Security, disagrees. “The Prime Minister has recently argued that an agreement on targeted border controls has been reached with Slovenia. Obviously, that did not happen. To partially control the collapse we will have at the border crossings, Croatia is abandoning the 2014 agreement on joint border controls with Slovenia. All this tells us that Croatia will suffer severe damages due to new EU regulations, and passengers should be prepared for long waiting times regardless of the fact that they are the EU citizens,” said Ostojić.
The Police Directorate explains that the new regime would be introduced just at the Bregana border crossing. A source from the Croatian Interior Ministry explains that this move may reduce “pressure on our side, but put enormous pressure on Slovenian border police officers and customs officers.” “The idea is that Croatian side of the border crossing should be without jams and that long lines should form on the Slovenian side. We will open six or seven entry and exit lanes and let people pass, while Slovenians will have traffic jams several kilometers long”, says the unofficial source.
“The traffic at Bregana is also sometimes slowed down due to the position of border control checkpoints because the distance between them is too short so it is not possible to carry out simultaneous control of two vehicles at the same time. One police officer now has to wait for another, which doubles the total time of border control,” explains the Interior Ministry.
The source also says that the relations between the two sides on the field are not ideal and that this change has the goal of allowing Croatia to control the situation. “If they block us, we will be able to block them too,” says the source.
In April, stricter border control regime resulted in long waiting times at the border crossings, and the columns stretched for kilometers. The hardest hit were border crossings between Croatia and Slovenia. At the Bregana border crossings, some passengers had to wait for up to five hours. The problems at the border crossings started on 7 April, when the revised Schengen regulations, intended allegedly to strengthen security within the EU and Schengen borders, came into force. Following a trilateral meeting in Brussels between Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission announced that the two states had agreed to introduce less strict, targeted controls when the waiting times become longer than 15 minutes.
Given a large number of foreign tourists coming to Croatia each summer, and the important role which tourism has for the Croatian economy, there is worry that problems at the border crossings could negatively affect the Croatian tourist industry and the whole economy.