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31 May 2019

Dutch Government Asks European Commission to Suspend Visa-Free Movement for Albanians

Albania-EUThe Dutch government has decided to ask the European Commission to suspend visa-free movement for Albanians. The decision comes after more than a month since a group of four Dutch MEps who initiated a motion to cancel temporarily visa-free traveling for Albanian nationals in the Schengen Zone, were backed by the Dutch Parliament.

In a letter signed by the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the EU, Robert de Groot, the Dutch government asks the EU Commission to undertake such a step, in consultation with the other Member States.

The Netherlands embassy in Albania has reacted to the news through a note, clarifying that for now visa policy for Albanian citizens will remain the same: “Albanian citizens holding a biometric passport do not need visas to travel to the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period.”

However, the embassy explains that the Dutch Parliament has asked the Dutch Government on April 16 to activate the Emergency Break visa suspension mechanism for Albania due to concerns over organized crime.

In order to execute this move, the Netherlands Government sent a letter of formal notice to the European Commission on 31 May. In this letter, the Commission is required to review the information sent by the Netherlands and in consultation with member states to decide on the need to act,” the notice says.

It further states that the Netherlands appreciates constructive and continuous co-operation with the Albanian government and authorities in the fight against organized crime.

It also explains what will happen next.

Following the letter of notification, the European Commission will assess whether it will need to take action. The Commission will inform the European Parliament and the European Council of the results of this evaluation,” it concludes.

The motion has been submitted in April by four MPs, due to concern of Albanians illegally staying in the Netherlands. Motion submitter and MP Van Toorenburg, had told to the plenary that there were 6 times more Albanians in the Netherlands than officially registered.

The Emergency Break is a Schengen Visa suspension mechanism regulated through EC Regulation 1289/2013. It permits the suspension the visa exemption for third country nationals in specific occasions considered as “emergency situations”. The suspension can take place with a simple majority of votes by the European Commission.

In January 2018, France had also threatened to restore the Schengen Visa regime for Albanians after the country received 7,630 asylum applications from Albanians in 2017.

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