A number of visa-free third countries are under close scrutiny because of the potential risks posed by their economic citizenship programs, or their plans to establish such schemes. This includes Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia, the European Commission announced.
In a special report on monitoring the visa-free regime, the European Commission welcomed Montenegro’s decision to gradually abolish the economic citizenship scheme. The report of the European Commission (EC) on the monitoring of the EU visa-free regime was published in Brussels.
In particular, citizenship schemes for investors in third countries with visa-free access to the EU can be used to bypass the regular EU procedure for short-term residence and the detailed assessment of individual migratory and security risks that it entails, including the possible avoidance of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing measures.
This is particularly problematic when passports issued to users of such schemes cannot be distinguished from other ordinary passports – the European Commission stated in the report. The European Commission is reportedly working with all visa-free countries using economic citizenship schemes to prevent and mitigate potential security risks for the EU.
At the moment, a number of visa-free third countries are under close scrutiny due to the potential risks posed by their economic citizenship programs or their plans to establish such schemes. These include Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia, as well as Vanuatu and some countries in the Caribbean.
Countries that have been exempted from the visa regime through liberalization dialogues are under close scrutiny in the context of regular reporting within the visa suspension mechanism, as well as through reports on expansion, where applicable – the European Commission report says.
It is emphasized that last year the European Commission gave explicit recommendations to effectively abolish such schemes or to refrain countries from adopting economic citizenship.
In addition, this issue is also discussed in the context of regular political dialogue, as well as at the meetings of the Subcommittee for Justice, Internal Affairs and Security organized within the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and the countries concerned.
In this regard, the European Commission welcomes Albania’s decision to suspend initiatives related to the establishment of the economic citizenship scheme, as well as the gradual abolition of the economic citizenship scheme in Montenegro – it was stated in the EC report.
Let us remind you that the visa-free regime between Montenegro and the EU was established in 2009.
The EU currently has a visa-free regime with 61 non-EU countries, and eight have been granted visa exemptions as a result of the successful completion of the visa liberalization dialogue (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). .
In April of this year, the Council of the EU and the European Parliament agreed to grant Kosovo a visa exemption, after the successful completion of the visa liberalization dialogue, which will come into effect on January 1, 2024 at the latest.