TIRANA, April 18
Citizens of Kosovo will be allowed to travel to the EU –and EU citizens to go to Kosovo without needing a visa, for periods up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
The Members of the European Union Parliament (MEPs) endorsed on Tuesday the agreement on short-stay visa freedom with Kosovo. The act will be signed into law on Wednesday in Strasbourg by European Parliament President Roberto Metsola and the Swedish Presidency of the Council.
The visa exemption will come into effect once the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is in place and in any case by 2024, the EP confirms. Once the law enters into force the entire Western Balkan (WB) region will have a similar visa framework for the Schengen area. Kosovo is the only WB country that hasn’t visa-free travel with the Schengen area.
“After years in the waiting room, Kosovo is now the last one in the Western Balkan region to join our visa-free regime. This finally enables the people of Kosovo to easily travel, visit relatives and do business in the EU. But it is more than that: this milestone is also an important foundation for the future and ever-closer cooperation between the EU and Kosovo,” Rapporteur Thijs Reuten said.
Wednesday’s signing ceremony will be followed by a press conference with the Rapporteur Thijs Reuten and Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi. The press conference can be accessed via the link provided by the European Parliament.
The Council of the European Union (EU) greenlighted visa-free travel for Kosovan citizens on 9 March. Swedish Minister for Migration, Maria Malmer Stenergard declared on that occasion that Kosovo has made great efforts to improve its security and migration management and to align its visa policy with the EU’s.
The European Parliament has supported visa liberalization with Kosovo since 2016 after the Commission declared that Kosovo fulfills the criteria of its roadmap for visa liberalization. Kosovo is a potential candidate for EU accession and unilaterally declared its independence in February 2008. To date, five EU member states (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain) don’t recognize Kosovo’s independence.