The Albanian government has taken measures to address irregular migration, resulting in a 32% decrease in asylum applications during the first half of 2018, according to the European Commission.
In a report released yesterday, the fulfilment of visa-free requirements by Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries were assessed by the Commission. Countries include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said: “Visa-free travel with our Western Balkan and Eastern European partners is a great achievement which brings benefits for both sides. It also comes with responsibilities and obligations. I welcome that all concerned countries continue to fulfil their obligations, but call for swift and enhanced efforts to continue curbing irregular migration, and fighting corruption and organised crime.”
The Commission said that all eight countries have taken measures to address irregular migration but that further efforts are needed to improve. They said Albania needs to continue the good work started in 2018.
Unfortunately, in terms of organised crime, a number of criminal activities are still continuing throughout the eight states. These include trafficking of illicit goods, property crime, money laundering, human trafficking, drugs, migrant smuggling, and cybercrime.
Citizens of Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia can travel to the EU without a visa since December 2009. For citizens of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, this is possible since the end of 2010. For Moldova, visa-free travel entered into force in April 2014, for Georgia in March 2017 and for Ukraine in June 2017.
More than 30,000 Albanians sought asylum in the EU in 2019. It is one of the top 10 countries in the world for asylum applications and the only European country alongside places like Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
It has been reported that between 49% and 83% of Albanians either want to leave or are taking concrete steps to do so.