Kosovo has fulfilled all benchmarks set out in the European Union’s Visa Liberalisation Roadmap, according to the European Commission. Two years ago, the Commission had proposed to the European Council to grant EU visa-free travel for the people of Kosovo, on the understanding that the two requirements would be met by the time of the adoption of the proposal.
“Kosovo has made great progress over the last two years to fulfil the two remaining visa liberalisation requirements,” European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said on July 18. “Today, we can confirm that both outstanding benchmarks have now been met, and that all other benchmarks continue to be met. I also count on Kosovo to continue addressing both migration and security challenges, including the fight against corruption. I now call on the European Parliament and the Council to swiftly adopt our proposal on lifting visa requirements for Kosovo citizens. This will be an important moment for Kosovo, for the entire Western Balkan region, and for Europe as a whole.”
According to a Commission press release, Kosovo visa liberalisation dialogue with Brussels was launched in 2012.
Now it’s up to the European Parliament and the Council to adopt the Commission’s proposal. Once the legislative proposal is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the people of Kosovo with biometric passports will no longer require visas when travelling for short stays of up to 90 days to all EU member states except for Ireland and the UK, as well as the four Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).
The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group in the European Parliament welcomed the Commission’s announced about Kosovo. S&D MEP and European Parliament’s rapporteur for visa liberalisation for Kosovo, Tanja Fajon, said he is pleased with the outcome.
“I am very happy that the European Commission has finally confirmed that Kosovo has done its job,” he said. “There must be no more obstacles for the Kosovar citizens to freely travel for shorts-stays in Schengen area. As a rapporteur I will put the report on visa liberalisation with Kosovo to vote in the European parliament’s Civil liberties committee immediately after the summer break. I call on the member states to do their job too, and adopt the necessary regulation as soon as possible.”
Fajon said Kosovars, just like other Western Balkans citizens, deserve to travel to Europe freely. This is important not only for political and economic cooperation between Kosovo and EU, but also for people to people contact in particular for the youth.