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The road to visa-free travel

The road to visa-free travel

This section tells the story of the Western Balkans' long journey to visa-freedom, a destination that is finally within reach.

The chapter The Origin begins in 2003 in Thessaloniki where EU leaders promised their counterparts from the Western Balkans discussions about the necessary reforms. It ends in 2008 with the launch of the current EU-led visa liberalisation process. During these five years, friends of the Balkans in the European Commission and among EU countries fought hard to secure visa facilitation for the region, as a first step, and then pushed for the roadmap process leading to visa-free travel.

ESI has also collected the documents illustrating the current process in order to create transparency and make sure that it is merit-based: strict but fair. These include the visa roadmaps, the "readiness reports" on activities and achievements sent by Western Balkan governments to the European Commission, and the Commission's assessments.

The complex EU legislative process is also described here in detail. Finally, the Excerpts from EU policy documents and the Chronology might be useful to those want a quick overview.

The Schengen White List Project