With five Western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia — Visa Facilitation Agreements entered into force on 1 January 2008, as a first concrete step forward along the path set out by the Thessaloniki agenda towards a visa-free travel regime for the citizens of Western Balkan countries.
With each of these five countries, a visa liberalisation dialogue was opened in 2008 and roadmaps for visa liberalisation have been established. In its assessment of the implementation of the roadmaps of May 2009, the Commission considered that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had met all the benchmarks set out in its roadmap and, in its assessment of November 2009, that Montenegro and Serbia also meet all the benchmarks set out in their respective roadmaps. The visa requirement exemption should then apply to holders of biometric passports issued by each of the three countries concerned.
Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina will probably also enjoy the exemption of visa regime in 2010 if they pass the test required by their own “roadmaps”. By voting this regulation (Fajon Report(**) the European Parliament made clear its willingness to update the regulation as soon as the two remaining Balkan Countries will pass the tests.
(*) L 336 18 December 2009 : Council Regulation (EC) No 1244/2009 of 30 November 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement