Kosovo's activities to receive a roadmap
It did not escape Kosovo's attention in 2008 that the EU offered its neighbours – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia - the opportunity to eliminate the visa requirement in return for a series of reforms in the areas of border protection, migration and the fight against organised crime. After addressing the most urgent issues following its declaration of independence on 17 February 2008, such as establishing a government and taking over competencies from UNMIK, Kosovo's authorities began to ask for the same opportunity.
As a show of good faith, Kosovo adopted a "unilateral" roadmap modelled on the roadmaps of its neighbours in May 2009 and an action plan for its implementation in October 2009. Over the coming months, the authorities passed a number of important strategies and laws, with input from EULEX and other international organisations.
In an October 2009 policy paper, the European Commission finally suggested a visa liberalisation process for Kosovo, which EU foreign ministers tentatively endorsed in December 2009. The Commission clarified that, before a visa dialogue could be opened, Kosovo needed to make particular progress regarding the readmission of Kosovars without the right to residence in the EU, and their reintegration into society. As explained in the previous chapter, The EU's approach to visa-free travel for Kosovo, the EU's offer to Kosovo differed significantly from its offer to the other five Western Balkan countries: the terminology was vague, it failed to lay out a specific plan and made functioning reintegration a precondition. The latter had not been a precondition for the visa liberalisation process for the other Western Balkan countries.
Despite the ambiguity of the process, the Kosovo government embarked on an intensive mission to meet the preconditions and make progress on all roadmap issues. In December 2009, it established an inter-ministerial working group on visa liberalisation, which meets monthly.
On 25 June 2010, the government adopted a Law on Readmission. This law has the same effect as a readmission agreement with the EU, which the other Western Balkan had to conclude with the EU, but which Kosovo cannot conclude since five EU member states have not recognised its independence. The law obliges Kosovo to take back all its citizens that are found to be illegally residing in the EU, as well as third-country nationals if the EU country in question can prove that they came to the EU via Kosovo.
In addition, by June 2010 Kosovo had signed and ratified more detailed and tailor-made readmission agreements with Albania, Denmark, France, Germany and Switzerland; had finalised negotiations with Austria and Norway; was conducting negotiations with the Benelux countries; had agreed to launch negotiations with Hungary and Turkey; and had sent invitations to open negotiations about readmission agreements to another 11 countries. The readmission law will cover the EU countries that have not recognised Kosovo as well as those that have so few illegal migrants from Kosovo that they are not interested in a bilateral readmission agreement.
Kosovo also took a close look at its reintegration policy and found it wanting. After an extensive assessment of the mechanisms for reintegrating repatriated persons, Kosovo revised its reintegration strategy in April 2010 to resolve all short-comings. An action plan on the implementation of the strategy is expected in August 2010. In June 2010, the government, together with the OSCE, began training Kosovo municipalities in the reintegration of repatriated persons.
In addition, in June 2010, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, together with EULEX officials, began a detailed assessment of the Municipal Civil Registration Offices and Civil Status Registration Offices, with the initial evaluation expected in July 2010. The goal is to improve document security.
The following is a selection of laws and strategies adopted by the Kosovo government to show its commitment to meeting all conditions required for visa-free travel, and laws and strategies that that were passed earlier in accordance with EU standards and which are relevant to the visa liberalisation process: