Visa liberalisation: Commission reports on continued fulfilment of requirements by Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries
The Commission yesterday presented its 4th report on the monitoring of the EU visa-free regime with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, as well as Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The report focuses on actions taken in 2020 to address the recommendations in the 3rd Report under the Visa Suspension Mechanism. For countries that have been visa-exempt for less than 7 years (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine), the report also provides a more detailed assessment of other actions taken to ensure the continuous fulfilment of the benchmarks. The report concludes that all countries concerned continue to meet the visa liberalisation requirements and made progress in addressing last year's recommendations. At the same time, the report highlights areas where further efforts are needed from each country. The report also states that visa-free movement continues to bring positive economic, social and cultural benefits to EU Member States and partner countries.
Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson yesterday said:
“Visa-free travel between the EU and the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries is a significant achievement. While restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on mobility, visa-free countries in the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership must continue and step up their efforts in managing migration and asylum and in fighting corruption and organised crime.”
Migration, asylum and cooperation on readmission
The COVID-19 pandemic and the related travel restrictions had a major impact on migration and mobility to the EU. The vast majority of those who did travel to the EU did so with legitimate grounds. While all countries assessed continued to take measures to address irregular migration, further efforts are needed to address ongoing concerns:
- Asylum applications decreased sharply in the spring of 2020. However, several countries need to continue addressing the issue of unfounded asylum applications by their citizens, including by strengthening participation in the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT)and by continuing to organise targeted information campaigns.
- While return rates decreased due to the limited availability of flights, good cooperation on return and readmission continues between Member States and participating countries.
- Despite an overall decrease in the number of irregular border crossings, improvements in the areas of border and migration management are still needed. The reception capacity in some Western Balkan countries continues to raise concerns, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- The Frontex status agreements with North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina should be swiftly finalised and implemented.
- To ensure a well-managed migration and security environment, a pre-condition for the continuous fulfilment of the visa liberalisation criteria, the assessed countries must ensure further alignment with EU's visa policy.
Public order and security
All countries assessed continued to take measures to prevent and fight organised crime. However, further efforts are needed to address internal security concerns:
- The countries should take action to effectively fight against organised crime, financial fraud and money laundering, especially through better coordination between law enforcement agencies.
- High-level corruption remains an area of concern. In some cases, efforts against corruption are still hampered by the limited capacity and legal status of anti-corruption agencies as well as and the small number of convictions in those corruption cases which go to trial (especially in Moldova and Ukraine).
- Visa-free countries granting citizenship in exchange for investment should effectively phase out such schemes, so as to prevent nationals of other visa-required countries from circumventing the EU short-stay visa procedure and the in-depth assessment of migration and security risks it entails.
Latest News from
EU increases humanitarian aid to Gaza by €25 million07/11/2023 13:25:00
As part of the EU's continued support to people in Gaza, the Commission will provide a further €25 million in humanitarian aid. This quadruples EU humanitarian assistance to over €100 million for Gaza this year.
President von der Leyen marks the EU's commitment to the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) during the event hosted at the G20 in New Delhi12/09/2023 15:25:00
President von der Leyen recently (09 September 2023) spoke at the G20 event on PGII hosted by Prime Minister Modi and President Biden.
Summer 2023 Economic Forecast: Easing growth momentum amid declining inflation and robust labour market12/09/2023 13:25:00
The European Commission yesterday presented the Summer 2023 Economic Forecast
Climate change: Deal on a more ambitious Emissions Trading System (ETS)20/12/2022 10:33:00
On Saturday night, MEPs and EU governments agreed to reform the Emissions Trading System to further reduce industrial emissions and invest more in climate friendly technologies.
EU and Ukraine sign €100 million for the rehabilitation of war-damaged schools *20/12/2022 09:25:00
Exactly three months after President von der Leyen's announcement in her 2022 State of the Union Address, the European Commission and the Government of Ukraine have signed a €100 million support package for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of schooling facilities damaged in Russia's full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine.
NextGenerationEU: European Commission endorses positive preliminary assessment of Portugal's second request for €1.8 billion disbursement under the Recovery and Resilience Facility19/12/2022 16:33:00
The European Commission recently (16 December 2022) endorsed a positive preliminary assessment of Portugal's payment request for €1.8 billion of grants and loans under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU.
'Fit for 55': Council and Parliament reach provisional deal on EU emissions trading system and the Social Climate Fund19/12/2022 15:25:00
The Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on important legislative proposals of the ‘Fit for 55’ package that will further reduce emissions and address their social impacts.
Ukraine: EU agrees ninth package of sanctions against Russia19/12/2022 14:33:00
The Commission welcomes the Council's adoption of a ninth package of hard-hitting sanctions against Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.
Council and European Parliament agree on new safety requirements for machinery products19/12/2022 13:25:00
The Council and the European Parliament negotiators have reached a provisional agreement on the regulation for machinery products. The proposed legislation transforms the 2006 machinery directive into a regulation.