Kosovo Minister of the European Integration, Dhurata Hoxha, told media on Friday that the final decision of the European Council on lifting visas for Kosovo will not be taken before December. She warned authorities to be cautious in managing expectations noting that there are still procedures within the EU institutions before the final decision on waving visas for Kosovo citizens takes place.
The European Parliament approved on Thursday, with 420 votes against 186, the opening of talks on visa liberalisation for citizens of Kosovo. The vote came after the European Commission in July confirmed that the country had fulfilled all the criteria. Minister Hoxha explaining further procedures until a final decision enabling Kosovars to travel without visas in the EU Schengen area, said that EPs rapporteur for visas Tanja Fajon was mandated on Thursday to start negotiations with the Council which will be followed with the adoption of the negotiation position by the Council. According to Kosovo Minister Hoxha the working groups of EP and Council are expected to resume soon, but she expects the final decision by the Council is not expected before December. “The best option possible would be the Council to vote a positive recommendation during their December meeting,” Hoxhaj said.
Gazeta Express reports that after EP’s decision to approve opening of talks on visa liberalisation, Kosovo citizens have started applying for biometric passports. The European Commission confirmed in July that Kosovo had fulfilled all the benchmarks required for its citizens to qualify for visa-free travel within Europe's Schengen Area, and the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee last month backed opening the talks with the council. The requirements included a strengthened record in the fight against corruption and organized crime, as well as the ratification of a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro, which occurred in March.