“The Dutch position on Kosovo’s EU visa liberalisation process: Light at the end of the tunnel?”, Wouter Zweers et al. (Clingendael Institute, The Netherlands)

Kosovo remains the last country in the Western Balkans that has not yet attained EU visa liberalisation which would allow its citizens to travel freely to the EU for up to 90 days. In spite of a 2018 positive assessment from the European Commission on the fulfilment of the formal benchmarks, the Netherlands, as well as several other EU member states, have remained opposed to date, citing rule of law concerns. The status quo has resulted in a politicisation of the process and rising frustrations. Unpacking the different positions is essential in order to identify action points for breaking the deadlock on both the Dutch and the Kosovar side. This policy brief therefore assesses the Dutch position on the visa liberalisation process, as well as how that position is perceived in Kosovo. It does so through an analysis of government documents and interviews with policy makers, politicians and civil society representatives. The brief shows how the Dutch narrative is slowly changing, arguing that even if divergences in narratives remain, visa liberalisation could take place towards the end of 2022. It articulates recommendations for both Kosovo and the Netherlands to capitalise on the current momentum.

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