Sarajevo: The EUropean Way. Photo: DG Enlargement, European Commission

The Commission's visa proposal for Albania and Bosnia (27 May 2010)

On 27 May 2010, the European Commission issued a legislative proposal offering visa-free travel to the citizens of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina on condition that these two countries meet a few outstanding benchmarks. These benchmarks are the following:

Albania:

  • the development of a strategy and policy to support the reintegration of Albanian returnees;
  • the strengthening of capacities of law enforcement and the effective implementation of the legal framework for the fight against organised crime and corruption, including through the allocation of adequate human and financial resources;
  • the effective implementation of the legal framework in the area of the confiscation of organised crime assets.

Bosnia:

  • the strengthening of capacities of law enforcement and the effective implementation of the legal framework for the fight against organised crime and corruption, including through the allocation of adequate human and financial resources;
  • the progressive implementation of the action plan from March 2010 on the establishment of electronic data exchange between police and prosecution bodies;
  • the harmonisation of Entity level and Brcko District criminal codes with the State-level criminal code.

The proposal was based on the April 2010 assessments by the Commission and EU member states' experts of the progress achieved by Albania and Bosnia in meeting the requirements of the visa roadmaps. After presenting these assessments to EU member states and the European Parliament at the end of April 2010, the Commission discussed them with Albanian and Bosnian senior officials on 6 May 2010. Afterwards it sent letters to the two countries specifying in writing what it expects them to do to achieve the benchmarks. The Commission also asked the two governments to submit reports on progress made in meeting the outstanding benchmarks by 25 June 2010, which would enable it to organise expert missions to the field in the first half of July in order to verify the progress and issue positive assessment reports.

On 7 October 2010, the European Parliament backed the Commission´s proposal. On 8 November, the Justice and Home Affairs Council, which brings together the EU's interior and justice ministers, gave the green light. The visa barrier for the citizens of Albania and Bosnia was formally lifted on 15 December 2010. From this time, Kosovo has been the only Balkan country under visa obligation.

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