On Thursday, the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs endorsed a short-stay visa freedom agreement with Kosovo.
With 47 in votes in favour, 8 against, and 4 abstaining, the committee gave its green light for the final adoption of the legislation, which will allow citizens of Kosovo to travel to the EU –and EU citizens to go to Kosovo- without requesting a visa, for periods of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
The Parliament’s work on the legislation was led by rapporteur Thijs Reuten (S&D, the Netherlands).
Procedure and next steps
The Civil Liberties Committee approved in January the agreement reached with the Council in December 2022 on visa liberalisation with Kosovo. Work on the file started during the 2014-2019 legislature, and Parliament closed its position at first reading at the end of that term. Following the December trilogue deal and the adoption by the Council of its first reading position on 10 March, Parliament is set to give its final approval during the 17-20 April plenary session in Strasbourg.
The visa exemption would enter into force once the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is in place, and in any case by 2024.
Kosovo is a potential candidate for EU accession that unilaterally declared its independence in February 2008. The independence is currently not recognised by five EU member states (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain). The European Parliament has supported visa liberalisation with Kosovo since 2016, after the Commission declared that Kosovo fulfils the criteria of its roadmap for visa liberalisation. Kosovo is currently the only part of the Western Balkans region to not enjoy visa-free travel on short stays with the Schengen area.
You can read more about the deal here.