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30 Aug 2018

LIBE committee votes for visa liberalization for Kosovo citizens

LIBE committee votes for visa liberalization for Kosovo citizens
The European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), has given today the green light for visa liberalization for Kosovo citizens. The committee voted pro the European Commission’s recommendation on visa liberalization for Kosovo, given on July 18, 2018.

At the same time, the Committee approved the opening of inter-institutional negotiations on the completion of the process. Thirty members of the committee voted in favor, ten against and two abstained.

The Western Balkan country got a positive recommendation on much sought-after visa liberalization more than two months ago, after years of attempts to fulfill all of the benchmarks set by the European Commission. From then on, nine steps remained for Kosovo to fulfill the whole visa liberalization process, among which three adaptions by EU bodies.

The approval by LIBE Committee is the fourth in this list. To complete this process, the European Parliament needs to vote on the proposal for the amendment of the regulation to move Kosovo under the Annex of visa free entities and territorial authorities that are not recognized as states by at least one member state.  Four more EU countries, which are Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Spain and Slovakia, have not recognized Kosovo yet. Then the Council of Ministers will have to adapt the change of the regulation, by a qualified majority.

European and Kosovo leaders welcome LIBE decision

Tanja Fajon, the European Parliament rapporteur on visa liberalization for Kosovo citizens has hailed Kosovo for making another step towards visa-free traveling. According to her, the conditions to be met by Kosovo were set very high; significantly higher than for other Balkan countries.

“I am happy @EP_Justice just adopted the decision to enter into negotiations with the @EUCouncil on #visa liberalisation for#Kosovo citizens. This is an important step to bring #Kosovo closer to Europe and to break the isolation. Well done and congratulations!” Fajon wrote on twitter.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos has also showed his support for such decision taken by LIBE Committee.

“Welcome strong green light of @EP_Justice to start negotiations with @eucouncil on visa liberalisation for #Kosovo. I hope the moment will soon be there for the entire Western Balkan region to be #visafree,” Avramopolus wrote, also on twitter.

The EU-Commissioner for European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, Kosovo  Minister of EU Integration Dhurata Dora, as well as the Kosovo President Hashim Thaci have used social networks as Twitter and Facebook to show their content and support for such a decision.

“Every time more we approaching the final decision, long sought-after, to remove every barrier to free movement for our citizens in the Schengen area,” Thaci wrote on Facebook.

Kosovo started the dialogue for visa liberalization in February 19, 2012. More than 6 years later, on April 17, 2018 the European Commission published the Kosovo 2018 report, confirming the country had fulfilled the last requirement of the visa liberalization roadmap, which was fighting corruption.

>> The Timeline of the Long Road to EU Visa Liberalization for Kosovo

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