Is Montenegro Part of Schengen?

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Montenegro is a small country located in the Balkans, bordered by Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania. As a country that is not a member of the European Union (EU), there is often confusion regarding its relationship with the Schengen Area.

The Schengen Area is a zone of 26 European countries that have abolished passport and other types of border control at their mutual borders, allowing for the free movement of people within the area. This includes most of the EU member states, as well as some non-EU members, such as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

Montenegro, as mentioned, is not a member of the EU, but it has been working towards closer integration with the bloc through the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA). The SAA is an agreement that provides for closer economic, political, and social ties between the EU and countries in the Western Balkans, including Montenegro.

One of the key requirements for countries to join the Schengen Area is to implement a series of measures related to border control, such as issuing biometric passports, implementing electronic border control systems, and ensuring effective border management. Montenegro has been working towards meeting these requirements as part of its efforts to join the Schengen Area.

In 2010, Montenegro signed a visa facilitation agreement with the EU, which allows for easier travel between the two entities. Under this agreement, Montenegrin citizens are able to travel to the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa, while EU citizens can travel to Montenegro without a visa for up to 90 days.

However, despite the visa facilitation agreement, Montenegro is not yet part of the Schengen Area. The country must first meet a number of criteria related to border control, law enforcement, and the protection of personal data, among others, before it can join the area.

One of the key requirements for Montenegro to join the Schengen Area is to have a functioning electronic system for travel authorization (ESTA), which is used to pre-screen travelers before they arrive at a Schengen Area border. This system is designed to enhance security and prevent illegal immigration.

Montenegro has made significant progress in developing its ESTA system, with the European Commission stating in its 2020 progress report that the country has "made good progress in the implementation of the ESTA system and related data protection legislation." However, there are still some areas that need improvement, such as the implementation of a centralized system for data processing and the integration of the ESTA system with other relevant databases.

In addition to the ESTA system, Montenegro must also meet other criteria related to border control, such as the implementation of an effective visa policy, the strengthening of external border controls, and the adoption of common visa procedures with the EU.

Furthermore, Montenegro must also demonstrate that it has effective measures in place to combat organized crime and corruption, as well as to protect personal data and ensure the effective implementation of the EU's data protection standards.

Despite the challenges, Montenegro remains committed to its goal of joining the Schengen Area, and the EU has been supportive of the country's efforts. In its 2020 progress report, the European Commission stated that Montenegro has "demonstrated a clear commitment to meeting the requirements for membership of the Schengen area.

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In conclusion, Montenegro is not currently part of the Schengen Area, but it is working towards meeting the necessary requirements to join the zone. The country has made significant progress in implementing the necessary border control measures, including the development of its ESTA system, and it remains committed to its goal of joining the Schengen Area.

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