EU Moves Finally to Scrap Visa Regime for Kosovo Citizens

EU ambassadors agreed on Wednesday to end the visa regime for Kosovo citizens by January 1, 2024, with the EU's Czech Presidency saying it was 'time to make this promise a reality'.

Kosovo citizens may be able to freely travel to the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone by January 1, 2024, after European Union ambassadors on Wednesday agreed to resolve the issue. On the basis of this approval, the EU Presidency said it will start negotiations with the European Parliament.

“Today we have taken an important step towards visa free travel for Kosovo and we now hope to reach an agreement with the European Parliament swiftly to make this promise a reality,” the Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Lipavsky, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency, said.

“Visa liberalisation has been made possible by Kosovo’s efforts to strengthen its border controls, migration management and security, and we trust that this good cooperation will only grow stronger in the future,” Lipavsky added.

The draft rules would allow Kosovo passport holders to travel to the EU without visas for 90 days in any 180-day period. Exemption from visa requirements would apply from the start date for the operation of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, ETIAS, which is expected to come into force by 1 November 2023, and in any case no later than 1 January 2024.

ETIAS is a travel authorisation for non-EU nationals who do not need a visa for the Schengen Area and has been developed so that travellers from these countries can continue to travel visa-free, while at the same time improving border management and security across Europe.

The only remaining country in the region under a visa regime, Kosovo has met all the requirements to secure a visa-free regime with the European Union since 2018.

But the European Council – made up of the 27 member states – had yet to unanimously endorse the recommendation of the European Commission – the EU’s executive arm – to go ahead.

However, the EU says Kosovo has now made significant progress in all areas of the visa liberalisation roadmap including in document security, border and migration management, public order and security, and fundamental rights relating to freedom of movement.

“On the basis of this assessment, the Commission proposed to lift the visa requirement for holders of passports issued by Kosovo. The exemption from the visa requirement will ensure that the whole Western Balkan region is under the same visa regime.”

The EU said the Commission will continue to actively monitor the implementation of these requirements, including visa policy alignment, through the post-visa liberalisation mechanism.

30/11/2022 - 12:27

30 November 2022 - 12:27

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