The European Commission has released today its long-expected report on the “Visa Suspension Mechanism,” allowing citizens from Western Balkan countries to travel to the Schengen area without visa. Several EU governments, including the Dutch one, had stated that they wanted to base any decision on possible reinstatement of the visa regime on this report.
Although the report shows a decline in illegal immigration from the second half of 2016 to the first half 2017 of 28%, and an increase of refusals of entry by 91% between 2015 and 2016, as well as a decrease of asylum applications in the same period of 54% and of illegal stay 30%, “the number of asylum applications by Albanian nationals in the EU is still the absolute highest for any visa-free state.”
Nevertheless, the EU report concludes that “Overall, the visa liberalisation benchmarks continue to be fulfilled. Further improvement of the implementation is expected, in particular to address the irregular migration challenges.”
However, the report also confirms the widely reported increase of Albanian criminal groups throughout the EU, contradicting claims of Prime Minister Edi Rama that there was no such thing as “Albanian crime”:
Albanian-speaking organised crime groups (OCGs) are particularly active across a broad range of criminal activities in the EU. These groups are usually poly-criminal and engage in drug trafficking, (notably of cannabis, cocaine and heroin), migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings (THB); organised property crime, racketeering and extortion.