Visa liberalisation for Balkans: De Jong wants Commissioner to comment on likely consequences

16 October 2012

Visa liberalisation for Balkans: De Jong wants Commissioner to comment on likely consequences

SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong wants to hear what European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström has to say about the liberalisation of visa requirements for citizens of Balkan states. Six EU member states have asked the Commissioner to clarify the rules, known as the ‘emergency brake procedure’, which will kick in to suspend visa liberalisation in the event of problems arising. ‘The spokesperson for the European Commission speaks in terms of “major concerns”,’ says De Jong. “I want the Commissioner to say how many people this involves. I also want the Commission to produce a speedy elaboration of this proposed procedure.’

The SP was against the liberalisation of visas because the party had no confidence that it would not cause difficulties, as De Jong explains. ‘The Commission is often frenetic with proposals for visa liberalisation and allowing people to enter and work without having to apply for work permits,’ he says. ‘Overhasty steps in this matter bring problems later, so I want a swift answer to my questions and also a debate with the Commissioner in the European Parliament. I want to ask her whether there is progress in thinking in relation to future visa liberalisation.’

Visa liberalisation for the Western Balkan countries has been in place since 2011. It means that citizens of those states who have a biometric passport are not required to apply for a visa in order to visit the EU. According to reports, many inhabitants of the western Balkans are plying for asylum on arrival. As De Jong points out, ‘political asylum must be granted to people who leave behind hearth and home as a result of fear of persecution. By far the majority of this group of people from the Western Balkans are not refugees at all and therefore should not by rights be within the asylum system.’

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