New Visa Agreements for Balkan Countries
18th September 2007: The European Union has signed agreements with five Balkan countries which will make it easier for citizens of these countries to obtain EU visas, in particular students, journalists and business travelers. The concerned countries, Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia had issued complaints that the visa rules were constraining them into a ghetto at the heart of Europe.
These agreements will come into force in January 2008, and will be restricted to the fifteen Schengen countries at present, though nine more countries are expected to join the agreement soon.
ESU welcomes this as an important step forward for stronger student and academic exchange. Christine Scholz, ESU committee member, says: “the mobility of students and teachers encourages academic development, cultural experiences and individual growth”. Indeed, visa regimes are a strong hindrance for students and academics in non-Eu countries wishing to participate in European mobility.
However, ESU strongly hopes that these visa agreements will extend to non-Schengen countries as soon as possible, and that they will be used as an example for all the non-EU countries currently involved in the Bologna Process.
ESU wishes to see the progress in student and academic mobility of these five countries monitored over the coming two years in order for the results to be observed at the Bologna Follow-up Conference in Leiden 2009. This agreement should then be extended to all Bologna member states.