The visa business: A report on the cost of visas for Kosovars in the period 2010-2012

The “Schengen Agreement” designed to eliminate internal border control was signed by seven EU members states and begun its implementation in 1995. Today, the “Schengen” area comprises all EU member states, except for Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, United Kingdom and Ireland. Norway, Switzerland, Island and Liechtenstein are not EU member states, but are part of the “Schengen” agreement. The creation of “Schengen” area led to the concept of external border of the EU, which implied a joint visa policy for countries out of this area. Through, secondary legislation,the EU has defined countries whose citizens need to be equipped with “Schengen” visa, in order to travel within the ‘Schengen” area. In 2011, 26 “Schengen” area states issued around 12.6 million visas for citizens out of the “Schengen” area.To date, all Western Balkan states (beside Kosovo), have signed agreements with the EU, which enables their citizens traveling to the “Schengen” area without visas. In the case of Western Balkans states, this agreement is often referred to as the visa liberalization agreement. Kosovo begun the dialogue on visa liberalization with the European Commission in January 2012 and received the visa liberalization road map in June 2012. This analysis of the Group for Legal and Political Studies (GLPS) and GAP Institute provides insights on the cost that Kosovo citizens face when applying to obtain a “Schengen” visa.You can download this Policy Note by clicking here.

ROCK AND RULE: Dancing with EULEX

The EULEX rule of law mission in Kosovo is the largest Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) mission to date. EULEX’s mission statement was set in 2008 in a Council Joint Action. EULEX’s designated mission is to “assist the Kosovo institutions, judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies in their progress towards sustainability and accountability and in further devel- oping and strengthening an independent multi-ethnic justice system and multi-ethnic police and customs service, ensuring that these institutions are free from political interference and adhering to internationally recognized standards and European best practices. The EULEX rule of law mission, in addition to maintaining some executive functions, was built to support the capacity building and development of Kosovo’s rule of law institutions. A core function of EULEX was to coach – monitor, mentor, and advise (MMA) – Kosovo’s rule of law institutions in establishing institutional practices that support the country’s overall democratization. However, “despite signiicant EU U assistance, progress in improving the rule of law is limited”. The stakes are high – as the largest CSDP mission – “a EULEX failure in Kosovo would be a failure of the European project in Kosovo, and potentially in the entire region of the western Balkans. “You can download this Policy Note by clicking here.

Visa Liberalization Process in Kosovo: An Assessment Matrix of Achievements and Challenges (Second Assessment Report)

Group for Legal and Political Studies, within the framework of the visa liberalization project, has been involved in monitoring the Kosovo institutions‟ progress in meeting the visa liberalization roadmap benchmarks as well as identifying the main challenges deriving thereof. This is the second assessment report relating to this issue.Herewith, GLPS has applied a specific methodological approach designed to weigh both the dynamic of meeting the benchmarks and highlighting the remaining challenges. That said, GLPS has established a specific grid consisting of individual benchmarks and associated information which explain the achievements of Kosovo institutions in meeting the corresponding benchmarks. Specific parts of the matrix emphasize the benchmarks to be met and spot the challenges that associate the accomplishment of the reaming benchmarks. To determine the level of implementation of the benchmarks, GLPS has applied numbers, from 0 to 5, and colours. To that extent, several sources of information are utilized to estimate the level of implementation of both the individual benchmarks and blocks.You can download this Policy Note by clicking here.

PHASE TWO, THE MISSION CONTINUES -Can a rejuvenated EU-facilitated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue account for the past, foresee political positioning, and pave the path towards progress?

In lieu of the recently rejuvenated EU-facilitated dialogue between the governments in Belgrade and Prishtina,this Policy Note aims to briefly illustrate the history of the dialogue and the complications that arose during the first phase of talks which lasted from March 2011 – February 2012, to analyze the rhetoric and substance of thefirst three rounds of the second phase of the now high-level dialogue which is taking place between Kosovo‟sand Serbia‟s prime ministers and is being facilitated by the EU High Representative, to examine the political positioning and underlying political aspirations of the EU and the governments of Kosovo and Serbia, and to offer recommendations and, in cases, historically-conditioned cautions regarding the future of the dialogue and the way forward.You can download this Policy Note by clicking here.

Visa Liberalization Process in Kosovo: An Assessment Matrix of Achievements and Challenges

Since the introduction of the visa liberalization roadmap for Kosovo in June 2012, Group for Legal and Political Studies, within the framework of the visa liberalization project, has been involved in monitoring the Kosovo institutions’ progress in meeting the visa liberalization roadmap benchmarks and indentifying the main challenges deriving therein. Herewith, GLPS has applied a specific methodological approach designed to weigh both the dynamic of meeting the benchmarks and highlighting the remaining challenges. That said, GLPS has established a specific grid consisting of individual benchmarks and associated information which explain the achievements of Kosovo institutions in meeting the corresponding benchmarks. Specific parts of the matrix highlight the benchmarks to be met and challenges that associate those reaming benchmarks. To determine the level of implementation of the benchmarks, GLPS has applied numbers, from 0 to 5, and colours. To that extent, several sources of information are utilized to estimate the level of implementation of both the individual benchmarks blocks, especially internal documents of Kosovo institutions (legal acts, strategies, annual reports and quarterly reports of Kosovo institutions and action plans’ matrices, input from progress reports, conclusions from SAPD, Inputs to the Feasibility Study, etc.), reports of international institutions and foreign embassies in Kosovo (particularly European Commission, European Parliament, UNDP, World Bank, ICO etc.), as well as information from in-depth interviews with representatives of ministries and relevant stakeholders. The numbers aim to both explain the level/progress of implementation of the benchmarks and orient the public and institutions on the remaining challenges. Thus, numbers and colours are used to determine the median dynamic and the level of implementation per block, covering specific requirements related to readmission and  reintegration, document security, border and migration management, public order and security, and fundamental rights related to the freedom of movement.You can download this Policy Note by clicking here.

The Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue and Shifts in the Political Leadership in Serbia: Ready to Resume, but not Prepared for Progress?

Kosovo and Serbia began a direct Dialogue in March 2011, under the facilitation and mediation of the European Union. The EU-facilitated Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia has sought technical solutions and agreements that promote neighbourly relations between Kosovo and Serbia and help normalize the situation in the northern Kosovo. Acting as a neutral mediator and leveraging the benefits of European integration, the EU hoped to help Kosovo and Serbia find lasting policy solutions for the multi-ethnic northern Kosovo and the relations between Kosovo and Serbia. However many challenges, both technical and political, prevented the successful implementation of agreements that have been reached so far. Parallel structures and institutions in the north, ethnic tensions, and domestic pressures on politicians in both Belgrade and Prishtina have ignited conflict over the northern border and have prevented the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. Regardless of the underwhelming successes regarding the implementation of agreements, a number of agreement were reached between March 2011 and early 2012, and the EU  hoped to prompt successful implementation of previous agreements, as well as reach new agreements , as Serbia and a Pro-European Tadic moved toward EU accession talks.You can download this Policy Note by clicking here.