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Visa-free Schengen travel for Bosnians great news

May 27, 2010 1:00 PM

Liberal Democrat MEP for London Sarah Ludford, who is the UK LibDems European justice spokeswoman and shadow lead for the ALDE group in the European Parliament on Bosnia & Herzegovina, has strongly welcomed the expected European Commission approval today of visa-free travel for Bosnians to the EU Schengen zone which then has to be approved by the EU Council of Ministers (governments).

Sarah Ludford has also been involved in EU visa policy for many years, was the European Parliament 'rapporteur' on the Visa Information System and has fought strongly for all citizens from the Balkan countries to be able to travel without visas to the EU once security aspects were addressed.

She said:

"It is fantastic that the people of Bosnia are set within a few months to regain the freedom to travel without red tape in Europe that they had 2 decades ago in the former Yugoslavia. This will help to integrate Bosnia into Europe and boost its journey towards EU membership."

"But this concession is not a free lunch. In return for visa waiver, BiH has made big efforts to increase document and border security and increase police competence to tackle criminals. It is a win-win situation where the authorities of the EU and Bosnia cooperate more closely in law enforcement but real security is also boosted by Bosnians raising their horizons and seeing how diverse kinds of people get along together in the rest of Europe."

"I hope that the government of the UK - which is not included in this EU Schengen move as we are not in the zone - will also examine the case for a visa waiver for Western Balkan countries."