Today, the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee voted in favour for entering into negotiations with the European Council and Commission to include Kosovo in a visa free regime with the EU. Socialists and Democrats have always been at the forefront of the fight for visa-free travel for all of the Western Balkans. Kosovo is the last country in the region whose citizens still face lengthy and expensive visa procedures while travelling to Schengen area.

“Kosovo has been isolated on the Balkan visa liberalisation map for far too long. I am proud that a large majority of MEPs voted in favour of allowing Kosovar citizens to travel freely for shorts-stays in Schengen area. Kosovars truly deserve it. As a rapporteur, I know how much work they have done to deliver the necessary reforms. The conditions to be met by Kosovo were set very high; significantly higher than for other Balkan countries and they have all been fulfilled as officially confirmed by the European Commission, including the fight against corruption and organised crime,” S&D MEP and European Parliament’s rapporteur for visa liberalisation for Kosovo, Tanja Fajon, said.

“So there is no more reason for further delay or prejudices preventing Kosovars from freely travelling to Europe. I call on the member states to recognise it, and to adopt their position as soon as possible.

“Visa free travel does not only enable people-to-people contacts, cultural, educational and professional exchange; it also helps to curb irregular immigration by putting criminals out of business. Finally, let’s not forget that the European Union unequivocally committed itself to the European perspective for all the Western Balkans countries. Visa liberalisation is one of the most tangible step in this process,” Fajon added.