European Western Balkans
Regional cooperation

EP confirms its will to grant Kosovars visa-free access to the EU

EP building in Brussels; Photo: European Parliament

BRUSSELS – The citizens of Kosovo should be able to travel to the EU for short periods visa-free, confirmed the European Parliament on Thursday, with 331 votes to 126 and 12 abstentions.

Its negotiating position on this matter was already adopted in September 2018 in view of the end of the legislature. The proposal needed the agreement of both Parliament and the Council, but since the latter did not have a position, there were no negotiations.

Following the abolition of visas for the citizens of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in 2009 and for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2010, Kosovo is the only Balkan country whose citizens still need a visa to travel to the EU.

The decision to exempt Kosovars of visa requirements would not affect the individual positions of the EU countries on the status of Kosovo. Five member states (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain) do not recognize Kosovo as an independent state.

If adopted, the visa waiver would allow the citizens of Kosovo to travel to the EU without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period -provided they hold a biometric passport-, for business, tourism or family purposes, but not for work.

All EU countries (except the United Kingdom and Ireland) and the four non-EU Schengen states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), have common rules for short-stay visas.

“EU governments have not delivered what they promised”, complained Tanja Fajon (S&D, SI), EP rapporteur for the proposal, during a debate in plenary on Wednesday. Kosovo has fulfilled all the requirements to get a visa waiver, as the European Commission acknowledged, and the “EU member states are blocking a little country without real reasons”, she added.

After the European Parliament confirmed the decision related to the Kosovo visa liberalisation, MEP Tanja Fajon wrote: “A good majority in favor of visa liberalisation for Kosovo. Thank you, Euroepan Parliament. We urge Council to act, now”.

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