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Published on January 17th, 2018 | by Elpida Tsiaka

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Visa liberalisation: Commission reports on implementation of benchmarks for Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries

On Wednesday, 20 December 2017, the Commission reported on the continuous fulfilment of the visa liberalisation benchmarks by the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) as well as the Eastern Partnership countries (Georgiam Moldova and Ukraine). The report shows that, whilst the visa liberalisation requirements for the countries concerned continue to be fulfilled, action is required in a number of specific areas to preserve their sustainable implementation.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, said: “We are fully committed to safeguarding visa-free travel for citizens of the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries and we are working together with their governments towards this goal. But ensuring this comes with responsibilities, for both citizens and the relevant authorities. While we acknowledge the efforts of these countries to ensure that the progress made is sustained and that reforms continue to deliver concrete results, further work is needed. We expect all countries to step up their efforts to address irregular migration and fight organised crime and corruption in particular.”

The aforementioned report is the first assessment under the new monitoring mechanism for the eight countries that have concluded visa liberalisation dialogues with the EU. The assessment shows that all eight Western Balkan and Eastern Partnership countries have demonstrated strong commitment to meeting the necessary requirements and have undertaken important efforts to implement a number of far-reaching reforms set out under the visa liberalisation process. It is now imperative that those reforms are sustained and that the countries do not backtrack on their achievements. The report focuses on the areas where further actions are required, in particular irregular migration and readmission, fight against corruption and money laundering as well as public order and security.

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