Shortly after giving Turkish citizens the right to travel to the European Union without a visa, the European Commission announced Kosovo may be next on the list.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said “Today we follow up on our commitment to propose visa-free travel to the EU for the people of Kosovo with biometric passports … This is the result of the hard work and successful efforts of the Kosovo authorities in achieving far-reaching and difficult reforms in the Justice and Home Affairs area and beyond.”
Asylum policies, external border controls, data protection, and law enforcement cooperation were among the requirements for the visa liberalisation scheme.
The recommendation must still be approved by both the European Council and the European Parliament. The arrangement would allow citizens to travel to Schengen countries for up to 90 days, but would not include visa-free arrangements for Ireland or the UK.
The visas do not include the right to reside or work in EU countries and are purely for short visits.
Kosovo was a part of Yugoslavia before its breakup, and in 2008 declared independence from Serbia. Serbia recognises the current Kosovar government, but not its independence, and continues to claim it as part of Serbian territory.
The territory does have aspirations to join the European Union but this remains a far off prospect as 5 of the current 28 EU member states do not recognise its independence.
Other Balkan countries have already enjoyed visa free with Citizens of Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia joining the scheme in 2010.
EU citizens are already able to travel to Kosovo without a visa.
Georgia and Ukraine are also high on the list for visa-free arrangements.