Locals wary as Hungary-Croatia border controls are removed

As Croatia readies itself to join Europe's Schengen area on 1 January, preparations are underway to remove all crossing points along the country's shared border with Hungary.

The Mur river separates Hungary and Croatia along much of the border region. But Hungary's temporary border barrier - installed in 2015 in response to the migration crisis - must now be removed.

Police will dismantle wire mesh and high fencing at other border sections early next year. But some fear this will make it easier for criminals to travel between the two countries.

"It's easy, you see, if you come to travel or to visit a family member, and don't have to show anything", one resident from Hungary's border town of Letenye told Euronews. "You just cross and it is done, you're here quickly."

"But there are people who take advantage of these opportunities," he added.

Queues of two or three hours were not uncommon over the summer at the border crossing point in Letenye. From January, such disruption will be a thing of the past.

Letenye, in western Hungary, was once an important stopover for travellers. This provided a livelihood for many of the town's residents. But recently, the situation changed. Locals revealed that traffic through the town had already decreased with the construction of the motorway, and they think the situation will be even worse after Croatia's accession to Schengen.

But one restaurant owner told Euronews that he hopes to welcome more foreign visitors who will no longer have to show their ID at the border.