Montenegrins at Risk of Losing Visa-Free Travel to EU Nations

The EU is considering partially backing out of the Schengen Agreement, which grants visa-free travel to citizens of Montenegro, Macedonia, and Serbia.

The current visa-free system has been in place since December of 2009. During that time, some EU nations have complained that it has led to an untenable increase in the number of applications for political asylum. For example, 544 asylum requests have been filed from Serbian citizens in Belgium.

Most of the asylum claims appear to come from ethnic Roma and Albanians who are citizens of Serbia. Some EU nations apparently have difficulty mentally separating Serbia from Macedonia or Montenegro. There is no justification for punishing Montenegrin and Macedonia citizens for the behavior of the Serbian government and it’s citizens.

The European Commission is considering the addition of a “safeguard clause” to the Schengen Agreement. If enacted, this clause will allow each nation to deny visa-free travel to any other nation.

The change will most be made next month. At that point, the Montenegrin government must lobby the governments of nations such as Italy, Belgium, and France to avoid having the visa-free travel rights of Montenegrin citizens revoked. In effect, the “cost of doing business” for the Montenegrin government is going to rise as a result of this change.

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