European Parliament abolishes visas for Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina

MEPs have backed proposals to exempt nationals of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania from visas by the end of 2010, agreeing with the European Commission that these two countries meet the required conditions on document security and combating illegal immigration and crime.

The October 7 announcement follows a decision last year, on November 30 2009, when the EU decided to waive visa requirements for citizens of Serbia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. At the time, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania did not meet all the criteria on illegal immigration, public policy and security.

Last May, however, the Commission decided that the two countries had made good progress and recommended that Parliament and the Council give the go-ahead to abolish the visa requirements by the end of the year, for visits of less than three months.

In the end, the motion to abolish visa requirements for these two countries was passed by 538 votes to 47, with 41 abstentions.

The proposal to waive visa requirements still needs to be approved by the Council of Ministers by a qualified majority in November.

On October 6 during the parliamentary debate, Slovenian MEP Tanja Fajon said the decision “will strengthen trust among people and speed up reforms” in Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina, who are “on the path to membership” of the EU.

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