Germany, France, and Italy are leading discussions on suspending visa-free travel with Eastern European nations due to increases in unfounded asylum claims and unlawful residencies.
According to documents seen by EUobserver, a number of EU countries have grown increasingly frustrated with the results of visa liberalization, prompting discussions on activating the Visa Suspension Mechanism.
Under the Mechanism, the Commission “monitors the continuous fulfilment of visa liberalisation requirements by non-EU countries.” A more than 50-percent increase in irregular stays and unsuccessful asylum claims is required to reinstate visas.
In the memo, Germany mentioned Albania and Serbia among the top ten most problematic countries in this aspect, as did France.
Since 2010, Albanian have had the right to travel visa-free to the Schengen area for up to 90 days.
In 2019, the Netherlands requested to suspend visa-free travel for Albanians, but the Commission rejected it.
EUobserver broke the news as President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is visiting the Western Balkans and declaring that the region’s future is with the EU. Visa-liberalization for most of the region—except for Kosovo—has long been seen as a “significant achievement” in the path to EU integration.
Furthermore, earlier this week, a document leak and four diplomats who spoke to Reuters, claimed that the Commission can no longer guarantee membership to the Western Balkans due to members’ concerns. This is a departure from the EU’s official position on the region.