BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union lawmakers on Tuesday gave the green light for citizens from Kosovo to travel freely in Europe without visas from next year.
The move means that Kosovo’s citizens will be able to travel in the 27-nation Schengen passport free area, which includes most EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, for periods of up to 90 days every six months.
Citizens in the Schengen countries will be able to visit Kosovo without visas too. The former Serbian territory was the last country in the Western Balkans region not to have such travel arrangements with the EU.
Dutch Socialist lawmaker Thijs Reuten, who chaperoned the process through the European Parliament, said the move “finally enables the people of Kosovo to easily travel, visit relatives and do business in the EU.”
“But it is more than that,” he added in a statement, as the assembly met in Strasbourg France. “This milestone is also an important foundation for the future and ever-closer cooperation between the EU and Kosovo.”
Kosovo wants to join the EU and is slowly bringing its laws into line with the bloc’s standards.
The visa exemption will enter force as soon as the EU’s new electronic travel system is in place and in any case in 2024.