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Parliamentary questions
31 January 2012
E-011787/2011
Answer given by Ms Malmström on behalf of the Commission

Visa liberalisation is one of the most important steps in the process of European integration of the Western Balkan countries. However, following the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, several Member States experienced a sharp increase in the number of unfounded asylum applications from several of these Western Balkan countries.

The Commission, the Member States and the Western Balkan countries work together to reduce the risk of abuse of the visa-free regime without compromising international standards of protection. More details and information can be found in the Commission Staff Working Paper of 31 May 2011 on the post visa liberalisation monitoring for the Western Balkan countries(1).

The European Parliament and the Council are currently discussing the Commission's proposal to amend Regulation 539/2001 (which lists the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of a visa when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempted from that requirement)(2). This proposal includes a visa safeguard clause allowing the temporary suspension of the visa waiver for the nationals of a third country on the basis of well defined, delimited criteria. This should be used only as a last resort and could be applied to the nationals of any third country exempt from the visa obligation for which the criteria are met.

(1)SEC(2011)695, in particular pp. 14 and 15.
(2)COM(2011)290.

OJ C 285 E, 21/09/2012
Last updated: 9 February 2012Legal notice