The European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs recently took a monumental step towards visa liberalization for Kosovo with its approval on January 12, 2023. With a decisive 48 votes in favour, this marks a significant milestone in the institutional process that will allow Kosovo citizens to travel visa-free to the Schengen area.
Thijs Reuten, the rapporteur of the LIBE Committee, took to Twitter to share the news, announcing the long-awaited agreement reached between EU Member States and Kosovo last December, and the commitment to keeping up the pace in the European Parliament.
Despite initial opposition from France and the Netherlands owing to concerns over migration and rule of law, Member States finally reached a consensus on the draft proposal to grant visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Kosovo passport holders. Representatives of Member States in the COREPER II meeting reached an agreement with the Czech Presidency of the Council on November 30th, 2022, and the two institutions agreed on the draft regulation on December 14th, 2022. The process of visa liberalization to the Schengen Area for Kosovo citizens is now well underway.
As the legislative procedure is completed and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) comes into effect, Kosovo passport holders will be able to travel to the Schengen area for 90 days in a 180-day period, without the need for a visa. This historic change is set to take place no later than January 1, 2024.
At present, the world reach for Kosovo passport holders is a mere 28%, with visa-free travel to only 14 countries. With visa liberalization to the Schengen Area, the ranking will rise to 41 countries, and possibly improve Kosovo’s prospects of gaining visa-free access to other nations as well.