49 lawmakers of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties reiterated their support for visa liberalization for citizens of Kosovo, six months after the issue ceased to be mentioned among the EU bodies due to the last European Union elections.
On September 24th, the LIBE committee voted once again to start the negotiations with the European Council to proceed with the remaining steps of granting Kosovars with visa-free entry to the EU members, part of the Schengen Area.
The voting took place despite opposition by some EU countries that haven’t recognized Kosovo as a state, and others who fear a wave of migrants from Kosovo may head to Europe, as soon as a visa-free agreement comes into force.
Kosovo started the visa liberalization process on February 19, 2012. On July 18, 2018, the European Commission confirmed that Kosovo had fulfilled all of the requirements for visa liberalization. Later on August 30, the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) approved the opening of inter-institutional negotiations on the completion of the process.
In March 2019, with a majority of 331 votes pro, 126 against and 12 abstentions, the Members of the European Parliament showed they were ready for negotiations with the Council on the issue.
Now the European Council needs to adapt the change of the regulation (539/2001), by a qualified majority. Then, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will have to sign the final legal act, as the very last step of this whole process.
The Kosovo passport is among the weakest in the world, enabling its citizens to travel to a very few world countries visa-free.
According to Henley Passport Index, which is a list published by Henley & Partners, lists world passports according to the number of countries their holders can enter visa-free or visa-on-arrival, as of July this year Kosovo citizens can travel to only 41 countries visa-free out of 225. The youngest European country is listed 100th out of 109 is this list, among countries as Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
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