Commission assesses progress by Kosovo in visa dialogue
European Commission - IP/14/871 24/07/2014
Brussels, 24 July 2014
Commission assesses progress by Kosovo1 in visa dialogue
Today the Commission presented its second report on progress by Kosovo in fulfilling the requirements of the visa liberalisation roadmap. The Commission considers that Kosovo has made good progress, but that further efforts are required to obtain visa-free travel for its citizens.
The report assesses Kosovo’s progress in each block of the visa roadmap and makes a set of recommendations for the Government of Kosovo to fulfil the roadmap’s benchmarks.
''The Kosovo authorities have worked very hard and made progress in areas like readmission and passports security. They need to continue building on the results shown and to tackle the shortcomings identified in this report, in particular when it comes to visa information system, independence of the judiciary and fight against corruption. The European Commission stands ready to assist them in their efforts to make concrete progress on the ground,'' said Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström.
Kosovo has taken important steps to implement its legislation in all areas of the visa roadmap: readmission now appears fully functional; the reintegration system is up and running; border/boundary management, migration, asylum and Kosovo’s criminal justice system have each benefited from significant reforms.
At the same time, further steps remain necessary to fully comply with the requirements of the visa roadmap. The report recommends that Kosovo should enhance the sustainable reintegration of returnees; improve the accuracy of its civil status system; roll out its visa information system; develop the independence of the judiciary; and establish a credible track record of court rulings in organised crime and corruption cases.
The Commission has also assessed the potential security and migratory impacts of visa liberalisation and concluded that lifting the visa obligation for Kosovo citizens carried certain security and migratory risks for the EU. Since 2012, there has been a notable increase in human smuggling from Kosovo, and EASO’s 2014 annual report also noted a considerable increase in the number of asylum applications lodged in EU Member States by Kosovo citizens. The Commission recommends additional steps for Kosovo to mitigate the security and migratory risks of potential visa liberalisation.
The European Commission launched a visa liberalisation dialogue with Kosovo on 19 January 2012 (IP/12/32).
The visa roadmap was handed to Kosovo authorities on 14 June 2012 (IP/12/605). It sets out a comprehensive list of reforms that Kosovo was requested to implement, in order to fulfil requirements related to the freedom of movement, such as reintegration and readmission, document security, border/boundary and migration management, asylum, the fight against organised crime and corruption and fundamental rights related to the freedom of movement.
The first Commission report on Kosovo’s progress in fulfilling the requirements of the visa roadmap was adopted in February 2013 (IP/13/108). Today's second report is expected to be presented to the Kosovo authorities in the near future.
The visa liberalisation dialogue is a merit-based process. Kosovo should meet all the requirements set out in the visa roadmap and demonstrate that there is no substantial migratory and security risk associated with lifting the visa obligation. Then the Commission can recommend to the European Parliament and the Council lifting the visa obligation for Kosovo citizens.
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This designation is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.