Despite the frequent messages from EU officials that Serbia’s future is as an EU member, which was also reiterated by the President of the European Commission who is on an official visit in Belgrade, Serbian citizens have received another unpleasant warning: the EU could remove Serbia from the white Schengen list and reintroduce visas for travel. Is this a realistic possibility?
The illegal stay of citizens in EU countries and unfounded asylum claims are the reasons why Germany is asking Brussels to consider lifting the visa-free regime for some countries. “In the event of little or no progress on the part of third countries, the European Commission should, in our view, agree that the initiation of the visa suspension mechanism is a viable option,” the German paper states.
Such a thing seems unlikely, however. “Nothing like that will happen because visa liberalisation is the biggest success of the EU integration process so far. However, there is a caveat that it takes into account irregular migrants seeking asylum, although they are basically economic migrants,” says Suzana Grubješić.
She also recalls that Serbia was in a similar situation in 2012 and 2013, when, after the abolition of visas, the number of economic migrants from the region had increased significantly. Even then, a few warnings were made but no concrete action was taken.
However, the EU rules are clear and say that the visa liberalization mechanism can be evoked if there is a significant increase in illegal migration from a certain country, an increase in asylum applications and a lack of cooperation in receiving asylum seekers in the EU.
Serbia does not meet any of these conditions, which is why the news of visa abolition is just a hoax by those who want to belittle the importance of European integration, analysts believe.
“We are talking about the countries that only provide their own statistics in this regard. No one has called for the abolition of the visa-free regime, but only listed statistically which countries are the biggest source of illegal migrants and asylum seekers,” says Nemanja Todorović Štiplija of EWB.
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