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European Lawmakers Again Back Visa Liberalization For Kosovars

Slovenian lawmaker Tanja Fajon, the rapporteur on the Kosovar file
Slovenian lawmaker Tanja Fajon, the rapporteur on the Kosovar file

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament has once again backed visa liberalization for citizens of Kosovo in an attempt to put pressure on reluctant EU member states.

A total of 331 lawmakers on March 28 voted in favor, 126 against, and 12 abstaining.

The chamber held a similar vote in September 2018, but the issue remains contentious in the European Council.

Sources in Brussels have told RFE/RL under condition of anonymity that France and the Netherlands are especially reluctant to grant the council a mandate to negotiate with parliament on visa liberalization for Kosovars.

The council is not expected to discuss the matter during Romania’s EU presidency, which finishes at the end of June, they also said.

During a debate on the issue on March 27, the rapporteur on the file, Slovenian lawmaker Tanja Fajon, slammed the council for dragging its feet and asked: “Why didn’t they put it on the agenda and when are they planning to put it on the agenda? We are losing…credibility."

Kosovo remains the only country in the Western Balkans whose citizens still need a visa to travel to the EU.

Visas were abolished for the citizens of Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia in 2009 and for Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2010.

Once the European Parliament and the European Council reach a deal on the visa waiver, Kosovar citizens will be able to enter the bloc without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period if they hold a biometric passport.

The waiver applies to all EU countries apart from Britain and Ireland but includes non-EU states such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.

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