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:
- Roadmap: Visa Liberalisation with the Republic of Kosovo (May 2009)
- Action Plan for Implementation of the Roadmap of the Government of Kosovo on a Visa Liberalisation Regime with the European Union (2009-2011) (Oct. 2009)
- Law on Identity Cards (Law no. 03/L-099) (Oct. 2008)
- Law on Travel Documents (Law no. 03/L-037) (Feb. 2008)
- Law on Citizenship of Kosova (Law no. 03/L-034) (May 2008; ICO and EULEX provided input)
- Law on Personal Name (law no. 02/L-118) (April 2007)
- Regulation no. 2008/11 on the Promulgation of the Law on Personal Names adopted by the Assembly of Kosovo (promulgated by UNMIK in Feb. 2008)
- Law on Dwelling and Emplacement (Law no. 02/L-121) (Sept. 2007)
- Law on Civil Register (Law no. 2004/46) (Sept. 2004)
- Law on Amending and Supplementing the Law on Registers of Civil State No. 2004/46 (Law no. 02/L-126) (Sept. 2007)
- UNMIK Regulation no. 2005/21 on the Promulgation of the Law for the Registers on Civil Status, adopted by the Kosovo Assembly (promulgated by UNMIK in May 2005)
- Law on Integrated Management and Control of the State Border (Law nr. 03/L-065) (May 2008; ICO and EULEX provided input)
- Law on Police (Law no. 03/L-035) (Feb. 2008)
- Law on Kosovo Police Inspectorate (Law no. 03/L-036) (Feb. 2008)
- Law on Asylum (Law no. 03/L-066) (May 2008)
- Law on Foreigners (Law No.03/L-126) (Dec. 2008)
- UNMIK Regulation no. 2007/4 on the Promulgation of the Law on Protection against Natural and Other Disasters, adopted by the Kosovo Assembly (Jan. 2007)
- Data Protection Law (June 2010; the law was prepared with EU experts seconded under Twinning/TAIEX technical support and reviewed by EULEX officials in the Ministry of the Interior)
- Financial Intelligence Law (it was before the parliament in June 2010, final adoption expected in the autumn 2010; it has been drafted together with EULEX)
- National Strategy of the Republic of Kosovo on Migration and Action Plan (10 September 2009; EULEX, as well as UNHCR, IOM and ICITAP - a US-funded support programme working with the Ministry of Interior - have been members of the working groups drafting the documents and providing comments. They have also reviewed the action plan and endorsed its final version.)
- National Strategy against Terrorism and Action Plan against Terrorism (May 2009; EULEX experts were members of the working group drafting these documents)
- National Anti-Drug Strategy and Action Plan (June 2009; with EULEX input and EULEX participation in the inter-ministerial working group)
- National Strategy of the Republic of Kosovo against Organised Crime and Action Plan (June 2009; with EULEX input and EULEX participation in the relevant inter-ministerial working group)
- State Strategy of the Republic of Kosovo on Crime Prevention and Action Plan (October 2009)
- National Strategy of the Republic of Kosovo on Integrated Border Management and Action Plan (April 2009; with EULEX input and EULEX participation in the inter-ministerial working group)
- National Strategy and Action Plan Against Trafficking in Human Beings 2008-2011 (2008) (In the US State Department's annual Human Trafficking Report 2009, Kosovo was upgraded to a Tier 2 Country, next to EU member states and NATO countries.)
- National Small Arms and Light Weapons Control and Collection Strategy and Action Plan of the Republic Of Kosovo (November 2009)
- A Strategy and Action Plan on Intelligence-Led Police Work has been drafted by the Kosovo Police together with EULEX and OSCE. As of July 2010, it was to be approved by the Kosovo government.