Dutch Parliament upsets Albania by approving motion on cancelling the visa-free regime for its citizens

The Hague, Netherlands | 17 Apr 2019 (Tirana Echo)  – The Dutch Parliament has upset Albania’s authorities, by approving a controversial motion to temporarily cancel visa-free traveling for Albanian citizens in the Schengen Zone. The move comes as the Netherlands sees a surge in its far-right political movements ahead of European elections.

The motion, which has upset Albanians, was presented by several Dutch MPs who argue that organized crime in the Netherlands has grown, following a “substantial increase in criminal activities by the Albanian Mafia in the Netherlands” and of its members.

Dutch MPs in favor of the motion, have said traffickers of Albanian origin are abusing the visa-free regime with the Schengen area in order expand their smuggling network. 

Following the approved motion, the Dutch government is required to submit a request to the European Commission to initiate emergency procedures to temporarily suspend Albania’s visa liberalization and to inform the House of the progress on this matter.

The Dutch Embassy in Tirana reacted to this development through a Facebook posting, stating that, for now, the visa policy for travelling to the Netherlands had not changed. “The Netherlands government has been requested by its parliament to invoke the visa suspension mechanism. The government is currently considering the steps it will take,” the Dutch Embassy said.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEFA) informed the Albanian citizens that the vote in the Second Chamber of the States General, the Dutch Parliament, that the European Union should be asked to start proceedings for the temporary suspension of the liberalization of visas, did not change the rules regarding movement to Schengen countries.

The Albanian citizens will continue to move freely across Schengen countries, in compliance with the practice hitherto and only by fulfilling the currently applicable requirements. A European Union (EU) Member State may ask the European Commission to start proceedings to suspend movements without a visa only on the basis of well-defined conditions, as provided for in the EU legislation, and no such condition is fulfilled for The Netherlands to file such request concerning Albania,” the MEFA said in a press statement.

The controversial move from the Dutch parliament comes as the Netherlands is witnessing a sharp increase of its latest far right movement Forum for Democracy (FvD) led by Thierry Baudet, which recently overtook sitting Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) as the largest in the Netherlands, during the latest provincial legislatures in the country.

Baudet’s FvD party is currently leading Dutch electoral opinion polls, running on an anti-immigrant and anti-Europe card.

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