Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister of Kosovo. Photo: European Commission, Audiovisual Service
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Hashim Thaçi, Prime Minister of Kosovo. Photo: European Commission, Audiovisual Service

Excerpts from EU policy documents

Excerpts from EU policy documents

European Parliament resolution of 8 July 2010 on the European integration process of Kosovo
Strasbourg, 8 July 2010

The European Parliament,

[…]

2. Stresses the utmost importance of the EU integration processes of all countries in the region for regional stabilisation; underlines that the prospect of accession to the EU is a powerful incentive for the necessary reforms in Kosovo and calls for practical steps to make this prospect more tangible both to the government and to citizens; to this end, calls on the Commission to include Kosovo in the screening process starting in early 2011 with a view to preparing the country for the launch of negotiations on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and to communicate to the Kosovo authorities which steps need to be taken before the Commission prepares the road map for visa liberalisation and to define the road map immediately after these steps are taken.

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High Level Meeting on the Western Balkans – Statement by the Chair
Sarajevo, 2 June 2010

"The participants welcomed the European Union's intention to extend visa liberalisation to all the people of the Western Balkans, once conditions are met. In this context, they welcomed the Commission's proposal to extend the visa free regime to the citizens of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina."

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General Affairs Council – Conclusions on Enlargement/ Stabilisation and Association Process
Brussels, 7-8 December 2009

Western Balkans

29. The Council stresses that Kosovo should also benefit from the perspective of eventual visa liberalisation [1] once all conditions are met and invites the Commission to move forward with a structured approach to bring the people of Kosovo closer to the EU.

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Justice and Home Affairs Council – Legislative act
Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement
Brussels, 30 November 2009

For persons residing in Kosovo as defined by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999 (referred to as "Kosovo (UNSCR 1244)") and persons whose citizenship certificate has been issued for the territory of Kosovo (UNSCR 1244), a specific Coordination Directorate in Belgrade will be in charge of collecting their passport applications and the issuance of passports. However, in view of security concerns regarding in particular the potential for illegal migration, the holders of Serbian passports issued by that specific Coordination Directorate should be excluded from the visa free regime for Serbia.

For reasons of legal clarity and security, and in accordance with Article 1(3) of Regulation (EC) No 539/2001, Kosovo (UNSCR 1244) should be added to Annex I to that Regulation. This is without prejudice to the status of Kosovo (UNSCR 1244).

Article 1

Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 is hereby amended as follows:

(1) Annex I shall be amended as follows:

(a) in Part 1, the references to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia shall be deleted;

(b) in Part 2, the following reference shall be inserted:

"Kosovo as defined by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999".

The text of the legislative act can be found here.

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EU/Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on Justice and Home Affairs – Conclusions
Brussels, 16-17 November 2009

"The Forum took note of the Commission's proposal to move forward with a structured approach to bring Kosovo's citizens closer to the EU through a visa dialogue with the perspective of eventual visa liberalisation when the necessary reforms will have been undertaken and the conditions met."

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European Parliament opinion: Third-country nationals subject to or exempt from a visa requirement when crossing external borders
A7-0042/2009 - Rapporteur: Tanja Fajon
(Consultation procedure)
12 November 2009

The text of the legislative resolution can be found here.

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Commission Communication, Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-2010
14 October 2009, COM(2009) 533 final

Achieving visa-free travel

"[…]The study on Kosovo to be adopted together with this Communication proposes that visa facilitation should continue to be promoted and a process should be launched for Kosovo, aiming at eventual visa liberalisation when the necessary reforms will have been undertaken and the conditions met."

"The EU supports the economic and political development of Kosovo through a clear European perspective, in line with the European perspective of the region. […] the Commission, in parallel with the present Strategy Paper, has approved a Communication entitled "Kosovo* – Fulfilling its European Perspective". This study […] proposes a structured approach to bring Kosovo's citizens closer to the EU, including through a visa dialogue with the perspective of eventual visa liberalisation."

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Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council:
"Kosovo - Fulfilling its European Perspective"
(The so-called "Kosovo Study")
Brussels, 14 October 2009

Part 6: BRINGING KOSOVO CITIZENS CLOSER TO THE EU

"A number of countries in the region have made substantial progress in the area of freedom of movement. In return for agreements on re-admission, they have been able to benefit from visa facilitation agreements with the EU. Visa liberalisation roadmaps have provided crucial guidance on issues such as the security of documents, the fight against organised crime, migration and border security. Progress has been monitored and evaluated through dialogue at senior official level. The prospect of visa-free travel has been a powerful incentive for these countries to carry out reforms. As a result, the Commission has proposed the relevant Council Regulation11 be amended to make citizens of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia eligible for visa-free travel to the EU as from January 2010. Citizens from Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina could also benefit from this as soon as these countries meet the remaining requirements.

Kosovo started issuing its own passports in July 2008. The process for individual Kosovo citizens to apply for visas has been made easier. Most EU Member States use the flexibility offered by EU legislation to simplify procedures to issue short-stay visas to individual Kosovo residents.

Kosovo citizens need to share further in the benefits of EU approximation, including the possibility to travel visa-free in the EU. This is only possible if Kosovo can ensure that relevant reforms are implemented and rules and procedures are respected so as to minimise the associated security risks for EU Member States. The starting point for these reforms is properly functioning readmission arrangements. Kosovo needs to adapt its legislation, strengthen its administrative capacity to process readmission requests and implement an effective reintegration strategy. It also needs to enhance the security of its borders and secure the management of civil registries and the issuance of documents.

The Commission proposes to move forward with a structured approach to bring Kosovo's citizens closer to the EU through a visa dialogue with the perspective of eventual visa liberalisation when the necessary reforms will have been undertaken. Based on a thorough assessment the Commission proposes to draft a comprehensive strategy to guide Kosovo's efforts to meet the EU's requirements for visa liberalisation. This strategy will set benchmarks to measure Kosovo's progress in the context of a visa dialogue and will be presented to the Council for information.

The Commission will regularly assess Kosovo's progress in the implementation of the strategy, drawing on evaluation missions by Member State and Commission experts. The Commission will support Kosovo in the implementation of its strategy through technical and financial assistance. In addition, within the wider framework of the rule of law and as a corollary to EULEX's activities, the Commission will explore the possibility of involving Kosovo in judicial cooperation initiatives at the regional level. The arrangements for Kosovo to cooperate and be associated with the work of Europol, Eurojust and Frontex require further examination, including through the possible involvement of EULEX."

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European Commission: Proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement
15 July 2009, COM (2009) 366

"In proposing this amendment to Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 1932/2006, the Commission is pursuing the following objectives:

(...)

– transferring the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia from the Annex I to the Annex II of the Regulation; introducing Kosovo under United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244/99 into Annex I of Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 under "Entities and territorial authorities that are not recognised as states by at least one Member State". This is without prejudice to the status of Kosovo under UNSCR 1244/99."

The full text of the proposal can be found here.

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European Council – Conclusions
Brussels, 14/15 December 2006

"The European Council welcomes the launch of visa facilitation and readmission negotiations with all the countries of the region with a view to concluding the negotiations as soon as possible. The conclusion of such agreements will promote people-to-people contacts between the EU and the Western Balkan countries and will increase the opportunities for travelling, especially for the younger generation. Recalling the Thessaloniki Agenda, the European Council also acknowledges the importance the people of the Western Balkans attach to the perspective of visa-free movement. Furthermore, the European Council underlines the desirability of promoting people-to-people contacts by also making available more scholarships for the students of the region."

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European Council – Conclusions, Declaration on the Western Balkans
Brussels, 15/16 June 2006
 
"The European Council is conscious that the question of visa facilitation is particularly important for the people of the countries of the region. The European Union therefore hopes to adopt negotiation mandates for visa facilitation and readmission agreements in the course of this year, in line with the common approach to the development of the EU policy on visa facilitation agreed in December 2005, so that negotiations can be concluded as soon as possible, ideally in 2007 or earlier where possible." 

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EU/Western Balkans Summit - Declaration
Thessaloniki, 21 June 2003

"We acknowledge the importance the peoples of the Western Balkans attach to the perspective of liberalisation of the EU's visa regime towards them. We recognise that progress is dependent on implementing major reforms in areas such as the strengthening of the rule of law, combating organised crime, corruption and illegal migration, and strengthening administrative capacity in border control and security of documents. The Western Balkan countries welcome the intention of the Commission to hold discussions, within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Process, with each of them, regarding the requirements for how to take these issues forward in concrete terms."

 


[1] Without prejudice to Member States' positions on status.

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