EP adopts mechanism for potential reintroduction of visas

Published on September 13, 2013 5:00 am

MPs of the European Parliament (EP) adopted on Thursday by majority vote the mechanism which makes room for temporary reintroduction of the visa regime for citizens of countries from which false asylum-seekers are coming, which includes Serbia.

Tanja Fajon, former EP rapporteur for visa liberalisation, strongly opposes the mechanism and she said immediately after the voting that there is no danger that the mechanism would be implemented for Western Balkan countries soon.

A total of 631 MP voted in favour of the mechanism, while 236 were against it.

On Tuesday, the EP had a heated debate on the mechanism which was criticised by socialists, social democrats, liberals and Green Party members because it makes room for limitation of freedom of movement, primarily for citizens of Western Balkan countries.

Fajon: No danger for Western Balkans

MEP Tanja Fajon said on Thursday that there is no danger that a mechanism for temporary suspension of the visa-free regime for the countries that account for the greatest number of bogus asylum seekers could be soon applied to the Western Balkan countries, including Serbia.

In a media statement, Fajon said that the outcome of today’s voting on the mechanism at the European Parliament (EP) is “seriously compromising the future of visa and neighborhood policy of the European Union.”

She warned that the adopted mechanism is “potentially dangerous and a harmful measure“, primarily in terms of democratic oversight, but stressed that “there is no direct threat today for the reintroduction of visas for one or more countries of the Western Balkans.”

“Number of false asylum seekers is still significant, however lower than last year. European governments therefore will unlikely have a reason to immediately activate the mechanism,” Fajon said in the release.

631 MEPs voted for the mechanism, thanks to the centre-right delegates (EPP), the largest political faction in the European Parliament, while 236 voted against the proposal.

Unfortunately, the parliamentary majority gave in to the pressure of those governments that want to decide on the issues related to the visa-regime and neighborhood policy without democratic oversight, Fajon said in the release.

Fajon, as a member of the EP’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, led the campaign against the adoption of the mechanism, because the EP will not have the oversight function in the process of its implementation, but rather cedes this role to the European Commission.

Besides this, Fajon also criticized the other amendment that was passed on Thursday, which refers to the reciprocity mechanism that stipulates the introduction of the visa-regime for countries that require visas for travel from any EU member state.

The amendment was put forward at the request of the Czech Republic, as several years ago Canada introduced the visa-regime to the country due to a wave of bogus asylum seekers of Roma origin.

Ruzic: No introduction of visa-regime for Serbian citizens

Branko Ruzic, Serbia’s minister without portfolio in charge of EU integration, said on Thursday that there is no reason for apprehension that visas will be introduced for Serbian citizens’ travel to the EU member states.

Referring to the European Parliament’s (EP) decision to adopt a mechanism for temporary suspension of the visa-free regime for the countries from which bogus asylum seekers are coming, Serbia included, Ruzic told Tanjug that there is no reason for apprehension that this implies anything bad for Serbian citizens.

“The decision is neither directed against Serbian citizens, nor visas will be introduced for our citizens,” he said.

The EP adopted an amendment to the Council regulation (EC No 539/2001) with a view to preventing possible violations of the right to the freedom of movement, Ruzic said.

“However, the fact is, and our partners in the EU and we in Belgrade know this, that a vast majority of our citizens do not violate that right,“ Ruzic said.

Asked what Serbia could do so as to resolve the issue of bogus asylum seekers, Ruzic said that Serbia has practically done all it could.

The state bodies are conscientiously working on that, and progress reports confirm that Serbia is really committed to the job, the minister said.

“I expect that the problem will be reduced to the minimum, and that the EU and our partners will show understanding in relation to that. Our obligation is to work on that even more conscientiously,” Ruzic said.

EP decision is warning to reduce number of asylum seekers

The decision by the European Parliament (EP) regarding the visa policy is a warning that Serbia has to continue implementing the rules concerning the reduction of the number of asylum seekers, head of the Serbian parliament committee for EU integration Natasa Vuckovic said on Thursday.

“That is our task, and if we continue to work responsibly, I think there will be no danger of visas being introduced,” she told Tanjug.

The new EU mechanism has not been definitely adopted in legal terms, because the Council of Ministers still has to adopt it, she stressed.

“It does not mean the end of visa-free travel, but is a mechanism that will allow potential temporary introduction of visas if there is a large increase in the number of asylum seekers from a particular country,” Vuckovic explained.

The EP adopted on Thursday the proposal to create a mechanism allowing a temporary introduction of visas for countries that large numbers of asylum seekers come from.

Source SerbGov

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