Yesterday, the Netherlands' House of Representatives heard a proposal tabled by 5 political forces, 3 of which are part of the ruling coalition, to restrict travel for Albanian citizens by reimplementing Visa requirements.

The proposal was approved with a majority 92 of 150 possible votes.

The decision by the Netherlands authorities came after the majority in the Lower Chamber requested the reintroduction of visa requirements for Albanian nationals.

Despite this decision, the European Union has confirmed that the free movement of Albanians in Europe remains valid and the chances of this being removed are almost zero.

The head of the EU delegation in Tirana, Luigi Soreca, has reacted today to the decision made by the Parliament of the Netherlands to vote in favour of decision to reimplement visa requirements for Albanian nationals following growing concerns about the role of Albanians in different criminal activities in their country.

Luigi Soreca stated that Albania and the Netherlands should continue their cooperation across all important areas.

Giving a public appearance, the EU ambassador assured citizens of the country that the free visa travel in the Schengen area will continue.

“Nothing has changed. Albanians can continue to travel without the need to obtain a visa prior. We call on the Albanian and Netherland governments to intensify cooperation.

“The visa free travel regime was a fantastic achievement for Albania.

“We’re convinced that Albanian authorities will take all the necessary measures so that this achievement can be preserved”, Soreca said.

Soreca added that the Netherlands would have to prove a link between organized crime and visa-free travel.

“An EC report as completed four months ago which looked at the progress of suspending the visa mechanism.

“In December's report, the Commission confirmed that Albania has met all the criteria for continued visa-free travel.

“In the same report, the EC identified the measures that Albania should take for positive progress in the fields of illegal immigration and organized crime.

“That report made it very clear to the Albanian government what measures should be taken.

“We have regulations for these issues and accordingly, another report will be presented in December 2019,” said Soreca.

The Italian ambassador, Alberto Cutillo, shared similar views to Soreca, stating:

“The Commission evaluates the results of the visa policy annually and this assessment was given just a few months ago. We can say that it has produced positive results.

“So, we expect that when this assessment is conducted at the end of this year, we will reconfirm these positive results.

“From the Italian experience, we have never established a link between Visa-free travel and an increase in crime.

“I can speak only for Italy and I'm sure each country has different experience, but in our judgment there is no such connection,” said Alberto Cutillo.

The Ambassador believes that Albania deserves the opening of negotiations but added that this does not mean that the country's leaders can take their foot off the accelerator.

“The advice I give to the Albanian government remains the same. Work hard and do not expect guaranteed results.

“European integration is the right direction for Albania.

“Albania deserves the opening of EU accession negotiations, but that does not means it can relax.

“It must continue with the path of reform and, as I said earlier, when all political forces cooperate these reforms are more efficient and more effective.

“As such, I encourage everyone to cooperate,” expressed Cutillo.

Albanians have been able to travel throughout the Schengen zone, including to The Netherlands, without the need for entry visas since 2010.