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Parliamentary questions
5 January 2012
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Barbara Lochbihler (Verts/ALE)

 Subject: Visa-free regime with countries from the western Balkans — recent developments

The countries of the western Balkans, which have been granted liberalisation of their visa regime with the EU, have been asked to adopt substantial reforms. Subsequent to the increase in the number of asylum‑seekers from countries such as Serbia and Macedonia, the Commission and the Member States have asked for additional measures. In its Enlargement Strategy, the Commission also invites them ‘to take all the necessary further measures to allow for the visa free regime to function smoothly’. The document makes explicit reference to the ‘significantly increased numbers of asylum applications … pointing towards abuse of the visa-free regime’. Under the threat of losing the recently granted visa freedom, the countries concerned have announced a series of measures. Several thousand citizens have been prevented from leaving their country on the basis of the allegation that they would attempt to seek asylum abroad. Macedonia has just adopted a law reform which enables the temporary revocation of the passports of returned immigrants and failed asylum‑seekers. Other countries like Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have announced similar measures.

1. Has there been any formal requirement for the countries concerned to adopt elements of the Schengen Borders Code, in particular the entry criteria, including the need for persons wishing to leave these countries and enter the EU to provide details of their travel plans and means of subsistence, or have the countries otherwise been asked to operate exit controls? If so, please specify.

2. Does the Commission have any information on the criteria on the basis of which these border checks are operated (see the reference to ‘profiling’ in the report on Macedonia and relevant statements by the Macedonian Minister of Interior)? If so, please specify.

3. Does the Commission consider these measures and other measures such as stamping and invalidating passports and the temporary revocation of passports to be compatible with the EU’s acquis and, more generally, international human rights standards, including the ECHR?

4. In the view of its efforts to promote human and minority rights and to combat racism and discrimination, how does the Commission justify the fact that Roma and ethnic minorities are the main targets of the enhanced border controls and other repressive measures?

 OJ C 285 E, 21/09/2012
Last updated: 13 January 2012Legal notice