The European Commission has rejected the Netherland government's request to re-establish the visa regime with Albania. A spokesman for the Commission told RTV ORA that Albania continues to meet the conditions for obtaining visa liberalization.
“After a careful assessment of the content in the notification received from Netherlands and based on the available information and the relevant data, the Commission considers that in the current situation the circumstances to trigger the visa suspension mechanism are not met.
“The commission will continue to closely monitor the fulfillment of the visa liberalization benchmarks for Albania as well as for other countries benefiting from visa free travel,” declared the EC.
The Netherlands officially submitted the request to the European Commission on May 31st, as the country's parliament adopted a resolution calling for the suspension of the free movement of Albanian citizens in the Schengen area.
The Netherlands' request was made to prevent the free movement of individuals suspected of criminal activity and drug trafficking.
Earlier, the European Commission, during the presentation of Albania’s progress report, assessed that the country continues to meet the conditions for acquiring the Visa free regime in the Schengen area.
If the Commission would accept the Netherlands request for the mechanism to be activated, Visa liberalization for Albania would be suspended for a period of nine months.
A long debate took place in the Netherlands Parliament on this issue, and then the request initiated by MP Toorenberg was subsequently approved.
In a letter sent to the European Union Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and the Netherlands permanent representative to the European Union, Robert do Groot, presented his arguments for this request, summarized in three points.
The European Commission had one month to review this request and the deadline expired today.
A spokesperson of the EC informed that the Commission considers that in the current situation, the circumstances to promote the free movement’s suspension mechanism are not met.
“The Commission will continue to closely monitor compliance with visa liberalization standards for Albania and other countries benefiting from visa-free travel,” the EC spokesman said.
This decision by the Netherlands brought heated debates to Tirana in the political sphere.
Meanwhile, the majority stated that the initiative was taken by MPs who have always been against integration while the opposition has seen it as a result of the low level fight against crime, corruption and drug trafficking.
Only two weeks after the official submission of the Netherlands' request to the European Commission, the Netherlands' parliament approved the official opening of the negotiations for Albania, announcing that they are opposed to their opening.
If the Netherlands request were to be adopted, then the suspension of the free movement would take place for a period of nine months and during this period the Commission will “establish an extended dialogue with the third country in question in order to correct the circumstances surrounding the issue”.