Visa-free travel regime with EU "threatened"

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission (EC) has said that the abuse of asylum had remained a threat to visa-free travel between the western Balkans and EU in 2012 and 2013.

(sxc.hu, stock)
(sxc.hu, stock)

In a report which the Beta news agency has seen, the EC also stressed that "the overwhelming majority of citizens from the region had honored regulations while using the opportunity to travel to the EU without having the requirement of filing for visas."

The report, submitted to the EU Council of Ministers and European Parliament also said that "the situation with false asylum requests mostly stayed the same during the first nine months of the year, when the number of requests for asylum in the EU filed by citizens from western Balkan countries dropped by a little over five percent."

Conversely, in Germany, the number of asylum applications made by people from the region soared 70 percent in the first three trimesters when compared to the corresponding period in 2012, Beta quoted the document.

Like last year, the bulk of requests for asylum during the first nine months of 2013 were made by Serbians and Macedonians, followed by Albanians and Bosnian citizens, while the approval rate was only two percent last year, said the document.

The EC stressed that the vast majority of citizens from the western Balkans who enjoy the benefit of visa-free travel to the EU "traveled to the EU in good faith and with just cause," Beta reported.