Rapporteur Backs Western Balkans’ EU Integration

resizer28European Parliament, EP, rapporteur on visa issues, Tanja Fajon, has reiterated her strong support for the inclusion of western Balkan states in the EU visa-free scheme.

Fajon said she believes that all nationals of western Balkan states should be allowed to travel freely to EU member states, as soon as their countries fulfil conditions set by the European Commission, EC.

Fajon expressed her confidence that the EP will support this in its upcoming plenary session.

”As far as I know, Serbia has fulfilled the remaining conditions which were set by the EC. I am glad to hear that there is good cooperation between EULEX [the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo] and Serbia,” she was quoted as saying.

In July, the EC proposed the lifting of EU visa restrictions on three western Balkan states: Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro. The EP is scheduled to vote on the issue in November. However, the EU Council of Ministers has the final say.

Members of the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs have criticised the EC proposal in its current form, saying it may exacerbate divisions in the western Balkans.

Fajon said that the EP will probably propose that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania be included in the same package, while confirming that the decision to abolish visas for these two countries would rely on their completing established benchmarks. She also said that a solution that includes Kosovo residents in the visa liberalisation process should be found, without prejudging status issues.

She said that the integration processes of the three countries identified by the EC as ready for visa-liberalisation is totally separate from those of Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo.

She added that she does not expect any major problems with regard to Serbia’s inclusion on the Schengen White List.

“I strongly believe that visa liberalisation gives a strong impetus to the Serbian government and citizens to speed up their European integration process,” she said.

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