The European Union Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee) has given the green light to Kosovo citizens to travel visa-free to the 27 Schengen Area countries on January 1, 2024, the latest, in a meeting held on Thursday, January 12.
Visa-free travel for Kosovo was supported with 48 votes in favour, seven against and three abstentions, and was announced through a Twitter post on the official account of the LIBE Committee, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“The trilogue agreement on visa liberalisation with Kosovo was approved by LIBE Committee MEPs with 48 in favour, seven against, and three abstaining,” ... read.
The Rapporteur of this Committee, Dutch politician Thijs Reuten, shared the tweet applauding the voting.
“One step closer! To the long-awaited visa-free travel for Kosovo,” Reuten wrote after he had announced the voting earlier this week on his personal Twitter account.
The news was welcomed by Kosovo Twitter users, though some of them did not hesitate to show their dissatisfaction, calling the process prolonged beyond comprehension.
“You’re voting for the same matter for the 100th time. The RKS got the green light years ago,” a Twitter user commented.
Whereas others criticised the seven MEPs voting against Kosovo visa liberalisation, calling it “discrimination towards Kosovo citizens who deserve to travel free as any other European.”
On December 14, last year, the EU Council and Parliament agreed to permit travellers from this country to enter visa-free the 27 Schengen area countries starting from November 1, 2023, at the earliest, and January 1, 2024, at the latest.
On the same day, Kosovo also submitted its EU membership application. Five EU countries – Spain, Slovakia, Romania, Cyprus and Greece – do not recognise Kosovo as an independent country yet.
Now that the LIBE Committee has approved the draft document that foresees permitting visa-free entry for Kosovo citizens, the document will be presented to the EU Parliament for approval. Once that happens, the Council will then need to support the document too, before it goes through a formal adoption procedure.
Kosovo has been in the process of gaining visa liberalisation for its citizens since February 19, 2012, while it received the roadmap with the requirements it needed to meet for visa-free travel on June 14 of the same year.
It received a positive recommendation from the EU Commission only six years later, on July 18, 2018, which at the time confirmed that Kosovo had met all the requirements presented in the roadmap for its citizens to be permitted to travel visa-free to the 27 Schengen area countries.
>> The Timeline of the Long Road to EU Visa Liberalization for Kosovo