Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia are looking to create their own free-travel zone, much like the Schengen Area.
Albania and North Macedonia – who are not part of the European Union – together with Serbia, are looking to create their own version of the EU’s passport-free Schengen Area.
French president Emmanuel Macron blocked the start of EU accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia last week, arguing that the Balkan states haven’t made enough progress to qualify.
His concerns were reportedly shared by the leaders of Denmark and the Netherlands.
Croatia, which forms part of the Balkan Peninsula, was recently given the go-ahead to join the Schengen Area.
Transatlantic opinion website Atlantic Sentinel reports that Albania and North Macedonia are, therefore, opting for a regional – if temporary – solution.
Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia’s proposal includes the following:
- Citizens of the three countries would no longer need a passport to cross the border, but only need to show an ID card.
- Labour movement would be liberalised through the mutual recognition of diplomas and qualifications.
- Students could go on exchange.
- Capital flows would be smoothened.
The other non-EU countries in the region — Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo — have been given the green light to join.
Atlantic Sentinel reports that some observers have called the proposal a stunt; a means to put pressure on the EU. Others praise the Balkan states for taking the initiative.