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Readmission agreements with the countries of the western Balkans

The agreements signed between the European Community and the countries of the western Balkans aim to facilitate the readmission, at the request of one or other signatory, of persons who have not been authorised, or are no longer authorised, to reside in such countries or in a Member State of the European Union (EU). They concern not only nationals of the State to which a request is addressed, but also any individual who has illegally entered the requesting State from the requested State.

ACT

Council Decision 2005/809/EC of 7 November 2005 concerning the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Albania on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation.

Council Decisions 2007/817/EC, 2007/818/EC, 2007/819/EC and 2007/820/EC of 8 November 2007 on the conclusion of Agreements between the European Community and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Montenegro, the Republic of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation.

SUMMARY

Any western Balkan country which is not a member of the European Union (EU) and has signed a readmission agreement ("partner country") shall readmit, at the request of a Member State, its nationals who do not comply with, or no longer comply with, the entry or residence conditions of that State. It agrees to readmit the person concerned if it is proven, or can be validly assumed, that he/she is a national of that country.

The partner country shall also readmit any third-country national who does not comply with, or no longer complies with, the entry or residence conditions of the requesting Member State if it is proven, or can be validly assumed, that the person in question entered directly and illegally into the Member State after staying in, or transiting through, the partner country.

The European Community (EC) has a similar commitment to the partner country: following a request from the authorities of the partner country, a Member State shall readmit any of its nationals who do not comply with, or no longer comply with, the conditions for entry or residence in the partner country, if it is proven, or can be validly assumed, that the person in question is a national of that Member State.

A Member State shall also readmit any third-country national who holds a visa or residence permit issued by that Member State or who has entered illegally and directly into the partner country after staying in, or transiting through, that Member State.

Readmission application

Any transfer of an individual to be readmitted must follow an application known as a "readmission application" submitted by the requesting State to the requested State. However, no application is required when the person is in possession of a valid travel document or an identity card and, where necessary, a visa or a residence permit issued by the requested State.

Readmission applications must include the following information and documentation concerning the person concerned: surname, forenames, date and place of birth, last place of residence, documents attesting his/her nationality, photograph, a note as to whether he/she requires help or care and information on any other protection or security measure which may be necessary for his/her transfer.

Evidence

For the readmission of nationals of the partner country or Member States, readmission agreements list the documents which make it possible to establish:

  • proof of nationality without any further investigation being required;
  • prima facie evidence of nationality. In such cases, the Member States and the partner country shall consider that nationality has been established unless there is proof to the contrary.

For the readmission of third-country nationals, the readmission agreements list the documents which constitute evidence making it possible to establish:

  • proof that the readmission conditions have been fulfilled;
  • prima facie evidence that the readmission conditions have been fulfilled. In such cases, the Member States and the partner country shall consider that the readmission conditions have been fulfilled unless there is proof to the contrary.

Time limits

The requesting State must submit readmission applications for third-country nationals at most one year after becoming aware of the facts.

Replies to applications shall be provided in writing within a set time limit (e.g. 10 days for the readmission agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina, 12 days for the readmission agreement with Montenegro, 14 days for the readmission agreement with Albania) from the date of receipt of the readmission application. For some readmission agreements, such as those with Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, this time limit is reduced if the individual is apprehended in the border region of the requesting State. By contrast, it may also be extended by a maximum of six days in certain circumstances.

If there is no reply within the extended time limit, the transfer shall be deemed to have been approved. If the application is rejected, the readmission shall not take place. Rejection decisions must be justified by the requested State. If the application is accepted, the readmission shall take place. In principle, transfers are organised within the three months following acceptance. This deadline may be extended.

How transfers take place

Before repatriating a person, the authorities of the partner country and the Member State concerned shall agree matters in advance in writing, particularly as regards the date of the transfer, the entry point and any escorts which may be required.

Repatriation may take place by air or over land. Air transport may take place on scheduled or charter flights.

Costs

In readmission operations, all transport costs as far as the border of the State of final destination shall be borne by the requesting State.

Joint committees

Joint committees are set up to monitor implementation of each agreement.

Background

Following the outcome of the EU-Western Balkans summit in Thessaloniki on 21 June 2003 ("Thessaloniki Agenda"), the EU institutions began negotiations with a view to concluding readmission agreements with all the countries in the region.

On 13 November 2006, the Council authorised the Commission to begin negotiating readmission agreements with Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. These negotiations led to the adoption by the Council on 8 November 2007 of Decisions providing for the conclusion of the agreements.

As regards Albania, the process dates back further. On 28 November 2002, the Council authorised the Commission to begin negotiations on a readmission agreement. These negotiations led to the adoption by the Council of a Decision providing for the conclusion of the agreement.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force - Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2005/809/EC of 7 November 2005
Republic of Albania
[adoption: consultation CNS/2003/0033]
7.11.2005 - OJ L 304 of 23.11.2005
Decision 2007/817/EC of 8 November 2007
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
[adoption: consultation CNS/2007/0147]
8.11.2007 - OJ L 334 of 19.12.2007
Decision 2007/818/EC of 8 November 2007
Republic of Montenegro
[adoption: consultation CNS/2007/0146]
8.11.2007 - OJ L 334 of 19.12.2007
Decision 2007/819/EC of 8 November 2007
Republic of Serbia
[adoption: consultation CNS/2007/0153]
8.11.2007 - OJ L 334 of 19.12.2007
Decision 2007/820/EC of 8 November 2007
Bosnia and Herzegovina
[adoption: consultation CNS/2007/0142]
8.11.2007 - OJ L 334 of 19.12.2007
Last updated: 21.02.2008
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