In relation to an increasing trend of unfounded asylum applications from people claiming to be from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the European Commission has taken note of and welcomed the immediate action undertaken by the BiH authorities, the Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union Renzo Daviddi has said.
Providing an update on the most recent developments taking place in the framework of the Post-Visa Liberalisation Monitoring Mechanism, which is coordinated by the European Commission, Mr Daviddi said:
“Visa liberalisation has undoubtedly brought the EU and the countries of the Western Balkans closer together. Since the introduction of short-term visa free travel to the Schengen area for citizens from Bosnia and Herzegovina, it has been clear that people to people contacts have increased. Since December 2010, the majority of Bosnia and Herzegovina citizens who benefited from the new visa-free regime were bona fide travellers, in accordance with the opportunity and the spirit of the visa liberalisation process: tourism, business opportunities and cultural exchange are easier.
“Since visa-free travel was extended to Western Balkans countries, a negative phenomenon was also noted: a substantial number of unfounded asylum applications were filed by citizens from the region to some Schengen countries. The latest figures on asylum applications, however, confirm also an increasing trend for persons coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The issue was discussed at the EU/Western Balkans Ministerial Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs in Ohrid on 3-4 October.
“The European Commission took note of the immediate action taken by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Commission services have promptly liaised with competent authorities from Bosnia and Herzegovina and meetings were organised in the context of the Post-Visa Liberalisation Monitoring Mechanism (PVLMM). A bilateral consultation was held last week in Brussels; a regional Senior Officials meeting also gathered there on 5 October.
“Under the PVLMM framework, a mission of member states’ experts and Commission officials will be deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina during the week 10-14 October. The mission will assess the consistent and sustainable implementation of all reforms adopted by Bosnia and Herzegovina in relation to the visa road map requirements. At the same time, experts are expected to have a constructive engagement also on the measures that Bosnia and Herzegovina has adopted to tackle, in a prompt and effective manner, the increase of unfounded asylum application to Schengen countries by its citizens.
“Short, medium and long term measures are required to counter this phenomenon. The readiness that Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities have demonstrated thus far in their dialogue with the European Commission and, bilaterally, with the most affected EU member states can be commended.
“The European Commission is confident that, under the attentive supervision of the Minister of Security, Mr. Sadik Ahmetovic, the BiH task force that follows the Post-Visa Liberalisation Monitoring Mechanism will persist in taking prompt action to counteract any abuse of the system which might endanger the overall successful process of visa liberalisation. The European Commission services look forward to the contribution that Bosnia and Herzegovina representatives will guarantee to help achieving a successful verification mission next week, in the interest of all Bosnian and EU citizens.”