At the Macedonian-Serbian border. Photo: flickr/engerundio
At the Macedonian-Serbian border. Photo: flickr/engerundio

On 15 July 2009, the European Commission submitted its proposal on visa-free travel for citizens of Western Balkans countries. In short, it proposed:

  • visa-free travel for the citizens of Macedonia since this country has fulfilled all the conditions listed in the visa roadmap; technically, this should be done by moving Macedonia from the "black list" onto the "white list" annexed to the relevant Council Regulation;
  • visa-free travel for the citizens of Serbia and Montenegro on condition that these two countries meet a few remaining conditions by the date of adoption of the proposal by EU member states;
  • exclusion from visa-free regime for Serbia of holders of the new Serbian biometric passport who reside in Kosovo and persons whose citizenship certificate has been issued for Kosovo, due to "security concerns regarding in particular the potential for illegal migration from persons residing in Kosovo"; the new passport can be issued to Kosovo residents solely by the Coordination Directorate at the Interior Ministry of Serbia, which will make these passports recognisable;
  • formalisation of the existing visa requirement for Kosovo residents by adding Kosovo (under UNSC Resolution 1244/99) to the black list, under the special category of "entities and territorial authorities that are not recognised as states by at least one member state" where the Palestinian Authority and Taiwan are already listed;
  • no change of the status for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which remain on the black list since they have not fulfilled all conditions, but the Commission "intends to propose transferring them to the positive list as soon as they have fulfilled the necessary benchmarks".

The next step in the legislative procedure was for the European Parliament to issue a non-binding opinion on the Commission proposal, which it did on 12 November 2009. After that, the Council – in its formation as Justice and Home Affairs Council comprising EU interior and justice ministers – could take the official vote.  The JHA Council approved the Commission proposal at its meeting on 30 November 2009.

Commission proposal on visa-free travel (15 July 2009)

Balkan Insight, Gerald Knaus and Alexandra Stiglmayer, "Winners, Losers and the Future of the Balkan Ghetto" (16 July 2009) Also available in German: "Gewinner, Verlierer und die Zukunft des Visaghettos 'Balkan'".

The Schengen White List Project