The Netherlands may soon propose to the European Commission to suspend visa-free traveling to the Schengen Area for Albanian nationals. Last week the Dutch Parliament supported a motion initiated by four MPs from different parties, asking the government to suggest the suspension of Schengen visa liberalization for Albania.
According to this motion, filed by MP Madeleine van Toorenburg of the Christian Democrats, there is a substantial increase in criminal activities by the Albanian Mafia in the Netherlands. It also notes that Albanian criminal organizations are abusing the possibility of traveling through Europe visa-free, this way further expanding their smuggling network.
“Noting that the suspension of the visa requirement for Albania was subject to various conditions, including the fight against cross-border crime (the parliament) calls on the government to submit a request to the European Commission to initiate the emergency braking procedure to temporarily suspend Albania’s visa liberalization and to inform the House of progress,” the motion reads.
According to MP Van Toorenburg, there are 6 times more Albanians in the Netherlands than officially registered.
The parliament supported the proposal, co-written by Liberal-Conservative Jeroen van Wijngaarden, with a majority. Now if the government approves the proposal it can suggest to the European Commission to initiate the “emergency brake” procedure.
The Emergency Brake is a Schengen Visa suspension mechanism, which permits the reintroduction of visas for third country nationals in “emergency situations”. The suspension can take place with a simple majority of votes by the European Commission for nine months. If no solution is found the suspension can be extended for another nine months.
However, the Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok told the plenary that he does not intend to support such an attempt, as according to him “Albania does meet the EU criteria for visa-free travel.”
Albania was granted with visa liberalization in 2010. Visa-free regime with Albania was revised in 2017 by the EU deciding that Albania still meets the conditions for visa free traveling. Yet, in the same year, France had also threatened that it would reintroduce visas for Albanians traveling to France due to the high number of asylum applications by Albanian nationals.