The European Parliament has given the green light to Kosovo visa liberalization, by approving the opening of visa talks. With 420 votes pro, 186 against, and 20 abstentions, now the proposal for the amendment of the regulation to move Kosovo under the Annex of visa-free entities, moves to the Council of Ministers for adaption. If the EU Council adapts the change of the regulation by a qualified majority, Kosovo citizens may be able to travel visa-free to Europe by spring.
The EU rapporteur for Kosovo visa liberalization, Tanja Fajon, welcomed the move through a tweet, pledging she would not stop fighting for the freedom of movement for Kosovo citizens.
“Kosovo citizens one step closer to visa-free travel for Europe. Happy to have received the green light from European Parliament with a big majority for negotiations with EU Council on Visa Liberalization for Kosovo! The fight continues with EU governments, I shall not stop until we deliver!,” rapporteur Fajon wrote on Twitter.
MEP Tanja Fajon, also a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, will be the one to represent the EU in the negotiations with its member states.
The EU-Commissioner for European Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn has welcomed the move through Twitter as well.
“Very much welcome European Parliament’s green light for starting the negotiations with European Council on Visa Liberalization for Kosovo,” Hahn tweeted.
Kosovo leaders have praised the decision as well, as a step further to achieve the much sought-after visa liberalization.
The Minister of European Integration in the government of the Republic of Kosovo, Dhurata Hoxha, said regarding the EP decision that Kosovo has received the gratitude for the work done by fulfilling all criteria to move freely. She also thanked the European MPs for voting.
Kosovo Primer Ramush Haradinaj congratulated the citizens of the Republic of Kosovo on today’s EP approval to open visa talks with Kosovo.
“You will soon be moving freely in Europe. Thanks to all MPs and parliamentary groups, all parties and member states, who supported the right of free movement in the European Parliament,” he wrote on his profile on Facebook, which is followed by hundreds of thousands.
Kosovo started the visa liberalization process on February 19, 2012. On July 18, this year, the European Commission confirmed that Kosovo had fulfilled all of the requirements for visa liberalization. Later on August 30, the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) approved the opening of inter-institutional negotiations on the completion of the process.
Now the European Council needs to adapt the change of the regulation (539/2001), by a qualified majority. Then, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will have to sign the final legal act, as the very last step of this whole process.