The European Commission has admitted that it is concerned about the existence of some simplified procedures for granting citizenship to foreigners by countries that enjoy visa liberalization with the European Union.
In this way, according to a spokesperson of the European Commission, persons from third countries gain the opportunity to avoid the Schengen procedures to obtain visas and also pose a risk to the security of the EU countries. In particular, the Commission mentions Serbia, which had such a scheme.
The Commission has a general concern about the different versions of citizenship schemes, such as the simplified procedure for granting citizenship after a short period of residence. This could pose a public and security risk to the EU, as Serbia enjoys visa-free movement within the EU. The Commission will monitor such policies of naturalization and granting of citizenship by the countries that have visa liberalization within the mechanisms for suspending visas”, a spokesperson of the European Commission told Radio Free Europe, reports REL.
He also emphasized that the visa policy of neighboring countries has a great influence on the movement of immigrants towards the European Union.
“In the case of Serbia, adaptation to the EU visa regime is important to continue fulfilling the criteria for visa liberalization. Serbia has taken an important step in adapting its visa regime to that of the EU. The Commission encourages Serbia to continue its efforts in this direction in order to have a complete adaptation”, said the European Commission.
Even earlier, diplomatic circles in the EU have heard criticism of Serbia for removing visas for some third countries. Mainly this was done for the states, which have not recognized Kosovo’s independence or have withdrawn such recognition. Some EU countries have reported a rapid increase in the number of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers from these countries.
Burundi, Cuba and Tunisia were mentioned among the countries from which most migrants come.
Citizens of these countries entered Serbia without visas and from there they crossed into the territory of the EU. Serbia has been forced to return the visas to these countries because it was threatened that the EU will suspend visa liberalization for Serbia, which has been in force since 2009.
However, the EU has sent warnings to several other countries in the region, including Albania.
Another concern for the EU is the so-called “golden passports” scheme, through which some countries in the region grant citizenship to those who invest certain amounts in these countries. Such schemes have also existed in several member countries of the European Union, and the European Commission has stated that they are illegal according to EU laws. Therefore, the European Commission also asks the countries of the region to refrain from such schemes.
“The Commission has repeatedly recommended to partners from the Western Balkans region to end, or refrain from, the establishment of ‘citizenship for investors’ schemes, known as ‘golden passports’, as they present a range of risks to the order EU public and security. In particular, these schemes enable citizens of third countries to obtain the citizenship of a country that enjoys visa liberalization and in this way gain the opportunity for visa-free movement in the EU”, said a spokesperson of the European Commission.
Some diplomats of the EU countries have told Radio Free Europe that visa liberalization is done to help citizens from the Western Balkans region to travel to the EU countries, not to enable intentional misuse political or financial for the governments of the countries of the region.
“We must work together to avoid turning the Western Balkan region into a door for illegal entry into the EU,” said an EU official.
The European Commission constantly monitors the implementation of criteria for visa liberalization by the countries of the region.
Adaptation to the EU visa regime is one of the conditions that Brussels insists on more and more. In case of refusal of the countries of the region to fulfill the criteria, even after the liberalization takes place, the EU retains the right to suspend the liberalization of visas.
Until now, such a thing has not happened, but in the EU they say that the countries of the region should not risk the removal of liberalization for their citizens for political or financial benefits.