Procedure : 2016/0139(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0261/2016

Texts tabled :

A8-0261/2016

Debates :

Votes :

PV 13/09/2018 - 10.7

Texts adopted :


REPORT     ***I
PDF 473kWORD 62k
9 September 2016
PE 583.925v03-00 A8-0261/2016

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Kosovo*)

(COM(2016)0277 – C8-0177/2016 – 2016/0139(COD))

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Rapporteur: Tanja Fajon

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Kosovo*)

(COM(2016)0277 – C8-0177/2016 – 2016/0139(COD))

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0277)),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 77(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0177/2016),

–  having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0261/2016),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading, taking over the Commission proposal;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

In 2003 the European Union confirmed in the Thessaloniki agenda its unequivocal commitment and support to the European perspective for all the Western Balkan countries. Stabilisation and Association process has since then become the essential framework for the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries, all the way to their future accession, with visa liberalisation process being of particular importance of this process.

The Stability and Association Agreements (SAA) have been concluded and have entered into force in all of the Western Balkan countries, including with Kosovo on 1st April 2016. The SAA represents the first contractual relationship between the European Union and Kosovo and marks an important and historical step for its European perspective. Furthermore the abolition of visas for the citizens of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in 2009 and then for Albania and Bosnia and Hercegovina in 2010 was an important step towards their European integration and proved that the countries of the region are capable of delivering the necessary reforms. However, this left Kosovo isolated on the Balkan visa liberalisation map.

The isolation of the country has had a severe impact on everyday lives for the Kosovar people. One should not forget the horrific events which occurred following the break-up of Yugoslavia, when cruel wars brutally divided the region and left very deep wounds in peoples' minds and hearts. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fled the region, and it is then when we witnessed the growth of a young generation cut off from the rest of unified and prosperous Europe. Mending that wound is ever more significant for the people of Kosovo.

Kosovo was presented with its visa-liberalisation roadmap only in June 2012, four years after all the other countries in the region. Although essentially similar, the roadmap for Kosovo has been significantly more precise and detailed, containing 95 benchmarks. The Commission has presented four progress reports on the visa dialogue with Kosovo; in February 2013, July 2014, December 2015 and the fourth and final report in May 2016, when it also presented the legislative proposal for visa liberalisation.

Visa-free travel does not only enable people-to-people contacts, better cross-border cooperation, cultural, educational and professional exchange, but it also helps to curb irregular immigration by putting criminals out of business. Liberalised visa regime will open up possibilities for citizens to travel abroad for tourism, to visit relatives and friends without having to face lengthy and expensive visa procedures. It will also address their sense of isolation. Visa-free regime presents one of the most tangible and concrete achievements for the country’s European perspective and it brings about the realisation of free movement as one of the fundamental principles of the European project.

The rapporteur strongly welcomes this very much needed proposal, which will ensure that Kosovo does not lose hope and aspiration for its EU accession process. European perspective is the primary guarantor of stability and the main driver of reforms for the country and for the region. We have learnt from the past that peace and stability can be best achieved by further enhancing the EU accession process and by making it as visible and tangible as possible for the citizens.

The European Parliament has been a strong advocate and supporter of Kosovo and its European perspective, including with visa liberalisation process and has continuously called both on the Kosovar authorities to cooperate and fulfil required benchmarks, and on the Commission to help facilitate and accelerate the process.

It is important to recall that, according to the EU visa rules, each country shall be judged based on its own merit. The determination of whether visa obligation should be abolished for its citizens is made based on a considered, case-by-case assessment of a variety of criteria. A fair and merit-based approach shall thus be the guiding principle also of this proposal, and not political back-trading. The rapporteur to that end objects to draw any parallels or conditions to other legislative proposals currently under deliberation in the Council or in the Parliament.

Furthermore, in 2010 the post-visa liberalisation monitoring mechanism was established by the Commission in order to review the functioning of the visa-free travel scheme and to address potential shortcomings at its implementation. In addition, the introduction of the suspension mechanism in 2014 provides an additional tool for the Member States to address the potential abuse of the visa free regime with the possibility of reintroduction of visas.

Undoubtedly, the non-recognition issue has also had a severe impact on Kosovo’s economy and its development, as well as on the everyday life of the people. And while the need to solve the status of Kosovo was the focus of attention on the region and its links with the European Union, it has also put certain constrains on the speed of its European integration process. The Member States have committed themselves to the process of visa liberalisation for Kosovo once the conditions are met without prejudice to the Member States’ position on status.

The rapporteur expects that the recognition of the status of Kosovo will not have negative consequences on the adoption process of this proposal. To that end, the rapporteur would like to reiterate the call of the European Parliament on the remaining five Member States to proceed with the recognition of Kosovo. This shall not only have positive effects on the Kosovo’s EU accession process but also overall: on its relations in the region, the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as on the political and socio-economic relations with the rest of the world. And the European Union has a political responsibility to carry out this process.


OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (7.7.2016)

for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Kosovo)

(COM(2016)0277 – C8-0177/2016 – 2016/0139(COD))

Rapporteur: Ulrike Lunacek

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The proposal of the European Commission aims to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Kosovo) (2016/0139(COD)). Namely, it concerns specifically the introduction of the visa free regime for Kosovo, by transferring it from Annex I to Annex II. It will grant visa-free access to Kosovo citizens, holders of biometric passports, travelling to the EU, with exception of the UK and Ireland, and including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, for short stays of 90 days within any 180-day period.

The Foreign Affairs Committee has repeatedly supported visa facilitation and visa liberalisation for all countries of the Western Balkans, as a way to promote people to people contacts and enhance relations with the EU. Kosovo is the only country in the Western Balkans that - since 2010 - has not benefitted from a visa facilitation agreement and it is currently the only country whose citizens need a visa to travel to the EU. This situation has created a strong feeling among the population of being "second-class citizens" and being "locked-in", creating pressure that in the past led the citizens to look at other ways for travelling to the EU.

The visa liberalisation dialogue was launched with Kosovo on 19 January 2012. Before that, the Commission had insisted that sufficient progress needed be done in the areas of readmission and reintegration as necessary elements, and was satisfied with the work done by the Kosovo authorities. Four progress reports were presented by the Commission, with the last one on 4 May 2016. This last one deemed that Kosovo had met the requirements of its visa liberalisation roadmap, with the understanding that before the adoption of the proposal by the EP and the Council, Kosovo will have ratified the border agreement with Montenegro and strengthened its track record on the fight against organised crime and corruption.

The Foreign Affairs Committee has always stressed the importance of rule of law, independence of the judiciary, respect for democratic principles. By means of its annual resolution on the progress of Kosovo on the EU integration path it monitors and assesses the developments and ensures follow up to these issues, and will continue to pay close attention. Visa liberalisation will bring a feeling of normality to the citizens of Kosovo. It should also be an impetus to the Kosovo authorities to make further efforts to implement the necessary reforms, and particularly the requirements in the framework of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

In conclusion, considering the importance of visa liberalisation for the citizens of Kosovo, the Committee wishes to see a prompt conclusion of the procedure and entry into force of the amended regulation as soon as possible to enable the citizens to profit from it.

******

The Committee on Foreign Affairs calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament adopts its position at first reading taking over the Commission proposal.

PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Title

Listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Kosovo*)

References

COM(2016)0277 – C8-0177/2016 – 2016/0139(COD)

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

LIBE

6.6.2016

 

 

 

Opinion by

       Date announced in plenary

AFET

6.6.2016

Rapporteur

       Date appointed

Ulrike Lunacek

24.5.2016

Discussed in committee

14.6.2016

 

 

 

Date adopted

7.7.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

38

7

6

Members present for the final vote

Michèle Alliot-Marie, Petras Auštrevičius, Mario Borghezio, Elmar Brok, Klaus Buchner, James Carver, Lorenzo Cesa, Aymeric Chauprade, Andi Cristea, Arnaud Danjean, Mark Demesmaeker, Georgios Epitideios, Knut Fleckenstein, Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Eugen Freund, Michael Gahler, Iveta Grigule, Richard Howitt, Sandra Kalniete, Tunne Kelam, Afzal Khan, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, Andrey Kovatchev, Eduard Kukan, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Arne Lietz, Barbara Lochbihler, Ulrike Lunacek, Andrejs Mamikins, David McAllister, Francisco José Millán Mon, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Alojz Peterle, Tonino Picula, Kati Piri, Cristian Dan Preda, Jozo Radoš, Sofia Sakorafa, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Jaromír Štětina, László Tőkés, Ivo Vajgl, Hilde Vautmans, Boris Zala

Substitutes present for the final vote

Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Andrzej Grzyb, András Gyürk, Paavo Väyrynen, Janusz Zemke

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Heidi Hautala


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

25

+

ALDE

Nathalie Griesbeck, Filiz Hyusmenova, Angelika Mlinar, Cecilia Wikström, Sophia in 't Veld

GUE/NGL

Cornelia Ernst

PPE

Jaromír Štětina

S&D

Caterina Chinnici, Tanja Fajon, Evelyne Gebhardt, Ana Gomes, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Marju Lauristin, Clare Moody, Luigi Morgano, Péter Niedermüller, Emilian Pavel, Birgit Sippel, Daniele Viotti, Josef Weidenholzer

VERTS/ALE

Eva Joly, Judith Sargentini, Josep-Maria Terricabras, Bodil Valero

24

-

ECR

Daniel Dalton, Jussi Halla-aho, Timothy Kirkhope, Branislav Škripek

EFDD

Gerard Batten, Ignazio Corrao, Beatrix von Storch

ENF

Sylvie Goddyn

NI

Udo Voigt

PPE

Burkhard Balz, Andrea Bocskor, Michał Boni, Pál Csáky, Mariya Gabriel, Kinga Gál, Monika Hohlmeier, Andrey Kovatchev, Barbara Kudrycka, Traian Ungureanu, Vladimir Urutchev, Axel Voss, Rainer Wieland, Joachim Zeller

S&D

Juan Fernando López Aguilar

2

0

PPE

Frank Engel, József Nagy

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention


PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Title

Listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Kosovo*)

References

COM(2016)0277 – C8-0177/2016 – 2016/0139(COD)

Date submitted to Parliament

4.5.2016

 

 

 

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

LIBE

6.6.2016

 

 

 

Committees asked for opinions

       Date announced in plenary

AFET

6.6.2016

 

 

 

Rapporteurs

       Date appointed

Tanja Fajon

23.5.2016

 

 

 

Discussed in committee

26.5.2016

 

 

 

Date adopted

5.9.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

25

24

2

Members present for the final vote

Gerard Batten, Michał Boni, Caterina Chinnici, Ignazio Corrao, Frank Engel, Cornelia Ernst, Tanja Fajon, Mariya Gabriel, Kinga Gál, Ana Gomes, Nathalie Griesbeck, Jussi Halla-aho, Monika Hohlmeier, Filiz Hyusmenova, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Eva Joly, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Timothy Kirkhope, Barbara Kudrycka, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Marju Lauristin, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, József Nagy, Péter Niedermüller, Judith Sargentini, Birgit Sippel, Branislav Škripek, Traian Ungureanu, Bodil Valero, Udo Voigt, Beatrix von Storch, Josef Weidenholzer, Cecilia Wikström

Substitutes present for the final vote

Andrea Bocskor, Pál Csáky, Daniel Dalton, Angelika Mlinar, Luigi Morgano, Emilian Pavel, Jaromír Štětina, Josep-Maria Terricabras, Daniele Viotti, Axel Voss

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Burkhard Balz, Evelyne Gebhardt, Sylvie Goddyn, Andrey Kovatchev, Clare Moody, Vladimir Urutchev, Rainer Wieland, Joachim Zeller

Date tabled

9.9.2016

Last updated: 26 September 2016Legal notice