BRUSSELS – The European Commission has today adopted the third, and final, report on Kosovo’s progress in fulfilling the requirements of its visa liberalisation roadmap. Only eight outstanding requirements remain. As soon as Kosovo fulfils these last benchmarks and provided effective measures remain in place to prevent new migratory flows to the EU, the Commission will propose lifting the visa obligation for citizens of Kosovo.
Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “I am very pleased with the enormous progress that Kosovo has made since 2014 in fulfilling the requirements of the visa roadmap. I am confident that Kosovo will soon be in a position to fulfil all remaining requirements so that the Commission can propose lifting the visa obligation for Kosovo citizens. I hope this will be possible early in 2016 – that should be Kosovo’s aim. Let us use the remaining period to do our utmost to prepare Kosovo for visa-free travel. I will visit Kosovo in early 2016 to personally take stock of Kosovo’s progress in meeting the remaining eight benchmarks.”
The Commission’s report sets out four key priorities for Kosovo to focus on in the remaining period of the visa liberalisation dialogue: transferring a sufficient number of judges to courts’ serious crime departments; building up a track record of investigations, court rulings and confiscations in serious organised crime and corruption cases; ensuring the operational independence of the Public Procurement Review Body and Public Procurement Regulatory Commission; and demonstrating that the legislation on name changes has been implemented.
The Commission will also monitor progress in Kosovo’s ratification of the border/boundary agreement with Montenegro before the visa obligation is lifted for Kosovo citizens; in the disbursement of the Reintegration Fund; on addressing the reasons for the low recognition rate for asylum-seekers; and on providing appropriate premises for the ombudsperson.
The visa dialogue with Kosovo has proved to be an important and effective tool in advancing far-reaching and difficult reforms in the Justice and Home Affairs field and beyond, impacting areas such as the rule of law and criminal justice reform. Progress has been steady and effective, demonstrating Kosovo’s commitment to fulfil the requirements of the visa roadmap as a matter of priority.
The European Commission launched a visa liberalisation dialogue with Kosovo on 19 January 2012. In June 2012, the Commission handed over a roadmap on visa liberalisation to the Kosovo government, which identified the legislation and institutional measures that Kosovo needed to adopt and implement to advance towards visa liberalisation.
The roadmap set out a comprehensive list of reforms that Kosovo has been requested to implement, in order to fulfil requirements related to the freedom of movement, such as reintegration and readmission, document security, border/boundary and migration management, asylum, the fight against organised crime and corruption and fundamental rights related to the freedom of movement.
The Commission has adopted two reports on progress by Kosovo in the visa dialogue: the first one on 8 February 2013; the second on 24 July 2014. These reports contained an assessment of progress made by Kosovo, recommendations to the Kosovo authorities and data about the expected migratory and security impacts of the visa-free regime.
The current report is accompanied by a Commission Staff Working Document, setting out in greater detail the Commission’s assessment of Kosovo’s progress in fulfilling the requirements of the visa roadmap and the expected security and migratory impacts of visa liberalisation.
Both the report and the Commission Staff Working Document draw upon reports submitted by the Kosovo government, reports drafted by Member State experts participating in an assessment mission in July 2015, information received from the EU Office in Kosovo, EULEX and EU Agencies, as well as statistical data compiled by Eurostat.
The visa dialogue is conducted without prejudice to Member States’ position on status.
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