The European Commission has started its evaluation for the suspending of visa-free access to the EU for nationals of Albania, upon the request of the Netherlands. After receiving a letter signed by the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the EU, Robert de Groot, in which he argues the reasons why visa-free travel should be suspended for Albania, the EC confirmed on June 3, that it has now started to assess the request.
According to the spokesperson of the Commission Natasha Bertaud, the Commission will assess the request and then inform the EU Council and Parliament, since such decisions “cannot be taken lightly”.
“The Commission will now carefully assess the notification in line with the procedure and based on relevant date and relevant information, regarding the specific circumstances… Of course, decisions to suspend visa-free travel cannot be taken lightly, and any steps leading towards triggering of the mechanism would be subject to very careful assessment and analysis,” spokesperson Bertaud said last Monday.
Netherland’s Request to Suspend Visa-free Travel for Albania
On May 31, the Dutch government asked the European Commission to suspend visa-free movement for Albanians, after more than a month since its Parliament supported a motion asking the government to do so.
In a letter to the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the EU, Robert de Groot, explained why such a benefit granted to Albanian passport holders should be reviewed.
“Over the last years, issues with Albanian nationals have received much public attention in the Netherlands. Albanian nationals play a significant role in organized crime in cities such as Amsterdam and Rotterdam and other regions in the country. Another development is the increasing number of illegal migrants from Albania, mostly young men wishing to start a new life in the United Kingdom. The number of asylum applications from Albanian nationals is also steadily high,” the letter reads, adding that these circumstances are undermining public support in the Netherlands for visa liberalization in general and visa liberalization for Albanian nationals in particular.
To prove his point, Dutch Representative de Groot presented several statistics in his letter to the EC, amongst other showing that Albanian-speaking suspects rank number two in the top five alerts registered by the Netherlands in the Schengen Information System.
Yet, he insisted that his country remains committed to supporting Albania in its fight against organized crime.
“The Netherlands requests the Commission to examine the provided information and, in consultation with the Member States, to decide on the need to take action on the basis of Article 8(6a) in order to effectively combat problems faced in relation to Albanian nationals,” de Groot concludes in his letter.
Now the European Commission will evaluate the request of the Netherlands. With a simple majority of votes by the European Commission, the EU may initiate the Emergency Break.
The Emergency Brake is a Schengen Visa suspension mechanism regulated through EC Regulation 1289/2013. It permits the suspension of the visa exemption for third country nationals in specific occasions considered as “emergency situations”.