On the same day that the government of Kosovo submitted an application to become a member of the European Union, the representatives of the bloc's Council Presidency and European Parliament agreed to grant visa-free entry into the Schengen area to citizens of this country on November 1, 2023, at the earliest, and January 1, 2024, at the latest.
The Council of the EU revealed the decision in a press release issued today, December 14, in which it confirmed that it has agreed with EU Parliament members to develop a regulation on visa-free entrance for holders of passports issued by Kosovo authorities.
“The new rules would allow Kosovo passport holders to travel to the EU without a visa for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period. This exemption from the visa requirement would apply from the start date for the operation of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and in any case no later than January 1, 2024,” the Council explains.
It further mentions that in order for things to happen within this time frame, the test must now be authorised by both the Council and the Parliament before proceeding with the formal adoption procedure.
The EU Commission initiated the visa liberalisation procedure for Kosovo on February 19, 2012, and the country received the roadmap for this process on June 14, 2012.
Six years later, on July 18, 2018, the Commission issued a favourable recommendation on the procedure, stating that Kosovo has completed all of the standards outlined in the roadmap for its residents to be able to travel visa-free to the Schengen area's 26 member states.
However, the EU has failed to provide visa-free entrance for these nationals, with France and the Netherlands being the main opponents to the process's completion.
The Council claims in a press release issued today that Kosovo has made significant progress in all conditions set out in the visa liberalisation roadmap, insisting that the country be added to the list of countries whose citizens are permitted to enter the Schengen Area visa-free, so that the entire Western Balkan region is subject to the same visa regime.
Previously, on November 30, EU ambassadors agreed on the Council negotiating mandate for regulation on visa-free travel for Kosovo citizens, paving the path for the text passed today.
Only today, Kosovo submitted its application for EU membership, which its Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, the Speaker of the Glauk Konjufca Assembly, and Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani hailed as a historic occasion that will move Kosovo closer to the EU.
By fLEXI tEAM