On 18 July 2018, in the latest Kosovo Country Report in meeting the criteria set out in the visa liberalization roadmap, the European Commission confirmed that Kosovo had also fulfilled the last two criteria for visa liberalization: The establishment of a registry of investigations, final court decisions, and confiscations related to high-profile cases of organized crime and corruption as well as the ratification of the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro.
The European Commission has approved a total of 4 progress reports on Kosovo’s visa dialogue. These reports assess the progress achieved by Kosovo, provide recommendations for Kosovo’s institutions, and include statistical data on migration and security impacts resulting from the visa-free regime.The proposal to lift visa requirements for Kosovo citizens was presented by the European Commission on May 4, 2016, emphasizing the full fulfillment of the two criteria crucial for the conclusion of the process:
- The establishment of a registry of investigations, final court decisions and confiscations related to high-profile cases of organized crime and corruption.
- The ratification of the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro.
In the latest report published in July 2018, it was confirmed that all criteria had been met.
Based on this report, following the ratification of the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro on 21 March 2018, one of the two remaining criteria has been fulfilled. Regarding the fight against organized crime and corruption, the Commission has monitored progress in this area and conducted a technical mission in Kosovo on 3-4 May to further assess the progress achieved. Based on the information provided by Kosovo institutions and the EU representatives’ assessment mission, it was confirmed that Kosovo authorities have established a sustainable registry of investigations and final court decisions related to organized crime and corruption, thereby meeting the last criterion.
The following were the recommendations the Commission paid special attention to in the December 2015 report:
- Redeployment of a sufficient number of judges, with the necessary support staff, to specialized departments dealing with serious crimes in all courts in Kosovo.
- Establishing a sustainable registry of investigations, final court decisions and confiscations related to organized crime and corruption, granting the central coordinator for serious crimes and corruption the mandate and resources to lead multidisciplinary teams for financial investigations and monitor such cases.
- Ensure the operational independence of the Procurement Review Body. Stringent integrity measures must be implemented to safeguard the independence of this body and the Public Procurement Regulatory Commission.
- Demonstrating that Kosovo has implemented its amended secondary legislation regarding the name change.
- Separating the Reintegration Fund, with a focus on providing assistance for employment, establishing small businesses, vocational training, and language courses for children.
- The Kosovo Assembly should ratify the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro.
- Kosovo should monitor the reasons for the low recognition rate of asylum seekers.
- In order to fully meet the requirements related to fundamental rights regarding freedom of movement, Kosovo must ensure appropriate spaces and full budgetary independence for the Ombudsperson Institution.
In the last Report published on 18 July 2018, the fulfillment of all criteria was confirmed. Based on this report, following the ratification of the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro on 21 March 2018, one of the two remaining criteria has been fulfilled. The latest report also confirms that Kosovo continues to meet all other criteria set out in the Visa Liberalization Roadmap regarding re-admission and re-integration, document security, migration and border management, public order and security and fundamental rights related to freedom of movement.
In 2022, the Government of Kosovo worked closely with the European Commission and the Czech Presidency of the EU to put this issue back on the EU Council agenda. On 12 August 2022, the Government of Kosovo submitted an updated technical report to the European Commission, emphasizing achievements in the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organized crime, reintegration, asylum and migration management. Following the positive assessment of this update, the Czech Presidency included it on the Council agenda in the visa working group, thereby unblocking a process that had been stalled for 4 years.
After decision-making procedures and trilateral dialogue between the European Commission, the EU Council and the European Parliament, on 9 March 2023, the Council of Ministers unanimously approved the decision to grant visa liberalization.
On 18 April 2023, the European Parliament approved Regulation (EU) 2023/850– and the amendment and supplementation of Regulation (EU) 2018/1806 to add Kosovo to the list of territories whose citizens are exempted from holding a visa.
EU Regulation 2023/850 has already been published in the EU Official Journal and entered into force on 15 May 2023. According to it, citizens of Kosovo with biometric passports will enjoy the right to travel without visas for short-term visits starting from 1 January 2024.
For more information: