Eight years ago, on November 2010, the European Union enacted visa liberalization for Albania and BiH, after both countries had accomplished all the necessary criteria. It was a historic decision. For the first time, the people of these two countries could finally travel freely like all Europeans, not needing to buy false documents or hide in vehicles to cross the border illegally. The decision put an end to the long queues in front of European embassies. For 90 days during a six month period, people could stay in the EU without a visa. There was, of course, the fear of people asking for asylum, so the European Commission continued to monitor the situation in both countries.
The cases of Albanians asking for asylum have been numerous during the last eight years and there have been several warnings on the part of the EU to return the visa regime. But that is not the only reason for concern. The main preoccupation is to stop terrorists crossing Western borders.
Now, there is a new plan, approved by the European Parliament, to verify travellers that do not need a visa to enter the Schengen zone. According to the EU, this plan is similar to that of the US electronic system, for the authorization of travelling. It will aim at identifying criminals, terrorists or those who pose a risk for the West, before they reach the border, stated the EU declaration.
The European Parliament approved this plan on July 5. People from those countries that are not part of the EU, mostly former Soviet and Western Balkan countries, will be part of a verifying process before they reach the Schengen border, using the authorisation system for travelling in Europe. The proposal has to be officially enacted by EU member states, so that the system will be operational by 2021, announced the European Commission. The completion of the application form will last 20 minutes and will cost 7 euros. For children under 18 years old, it will be free.
The announcement of such a plan is causing a lot of dissatisfaction among Albanians, who see it as another barrier towards the West.