This annual report shows that the visa liberalization requirements for the concerned countries continue to be met but that action - in some cases immediate - is required for a number of countries in specific areas to ensure this continues to be the case.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos underlined that “visa-free travel with Western Balkan and Eastern European partners is a great achievement which brings benefits for both sides”.

But 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 organized crime”, said Avramopoulos.

According to European Commission’s report, all eight countries have taken measures to address irregular migration, however further efforts are needed to improve and ensure sustainable results.

Irregular migration from Ukraine, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EU remains high, while the increasing number of unfounded asylum applications in the EU from Moldovan and Georgian citizens is a source of concern”, reads the report. “More work is needed to ensure full alignment with EU visa policy. Serbia terminated the visa-free status for Iran, but concerns remain for other countries with visa-free access to Serbia”.

Closer cooperation of the European Border and Coast Guard with the Western Balkans partners will help manage irregular migration. The first status agreement was signed with Albania; Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have initialed their agreements, while procedures are being finalized for Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina”, concludes the report.

European Commission underlined that more action was needed to fight organized crime and corruption.

Despite measures taken to fight organized crime, further reinforced efforts are needed from all eight countries. Organized crime groups from the eight countries are active across a broad range of criminal activities in the EU, including trafficking of illicit goods, property crime, money laundering, trafficking in human beings, drugs, migrant smuggling and cybercrime”, reads the report.

The European Commission will monitor the continuous fulfilment of the visa liberalization requirements and will report to the European Parliament and the Council at least once a year.


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