Friday

28th Jul 2017

EU Commission to recommend visa freedom for Bosnia and Albania

The European Commission is today (27 May) to recommend the granting of visa freedom to Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This means the two Western Balkan states will eventually join the list of countries whose citizens do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area for visits of up to 90 days. But EU sources told WAZ.EUobserver the proposal would state that both countries will still have to meet some remaining benchmarks first.

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Experts from the commission will have to verify this summer or autumn if the benchmarks have been met, and pass a new assessment. Among the areas where Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina will have to do more are the reintegration of returnees and the fight against corruption and organised crime.

The commission's recommendation is expected to be announced by Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. The final decision has to be taken by EU interior ministers. In this way, the EU hopes Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina will seriously attempt to carry out remaining reforms.

The Commission‘s move comes just days before a ministerial meeting of EU and Western Balkans in Sarajevo on 2 June.

The gathering is likely to welcome the recommendation as an important step in bringing citizens of the Western Balkans closer to the EU.

The other countries of the region already enjoy visa freedom with the EU. For Kosovo it is expected that a "similar", but not the same, process of visa dialogue will start soon and can eventually lead to inclusion of Kosovo in the visa-free regime.

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