The governments of Germany, France and Italy are pushing EU institutions to review visa liberalization agreements with at least four third European countries over alleged violations of the agreements by their own citizens.
According to an internal EU document seen by Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL), Germany, France and Italy are looking into the possibility of re-obligation to obtain a pre-arrival visa for travelers from Albania, Moldova, Ukraine, and Serbia due to an increase in “unauthorized residence offenses”.
The document, dated September 27, cites illegal stay and unfounded asylum claims as among the main crimes committed by citizens of these countries.
In August of this year, TheSchengen.com published the fourth report of the EU Commission on monitoring the visa-waiver regime between the EU and the five Western Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. The three Eastern Partnership countries – Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
The report concluded that all seven countries have made significant progress in addressing last year’s recommendations in order to continue to meet the requirements of visa liberalization agreements, but there are still areas that require more effort.
In particular, the report noted that these countries should “intensify their efforts in managing immigration and asylum and combating corruption and organized crime.”
Data from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) shows that in July, citizens of many Eastern Partnership and some Western Balkan countries submitted more asylum applications in EU+ countries, compared to the previous month.
The data shows that asylum offices across the European Union received a total of 180 applications from North Macedonians, which is a 117 percent increase over last year. Citizens of the Western Balkans and other Eastern Partnership countries also submitted more applications, as follows:
Albanians (980, up 56 percent from June) Armenians (170, +11 percent) Belarusians (390, +54 percent) Kosovo (200, +12 percent) Moldovans (880, +74 percent)
The first Albanians and Bosnians traveled without a visa to the countries of the Schengen area on December 15, 2010.
To date, there are more than 60 countries outside the European Union, whose citizens benefit from the visa-free entry system in the European Union. Citizens of these countries can enter the Schengen area for periods of up to 90 days within any six months without having to obtain a visa first, for tourism and business purposes.