The European Parliament yesterday (7 October) backed visa-free travel to Europe's Schengen area for Albanian and Bosnian citizens, setting the EU assembly on a collision course with France, which opposes the proposal following its controversial crackdown on illegal Roma camps.
Schengen is a village at the border between Luxembourg, France and Germany, where on 14 June 1985 an agreement to gradually abolish checks at common borders was signed between those countries, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Gradually, the process was taken further. In 1995, border controls were abolished between Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.
Today, the Schengen border-free area consists of 26 member states: 23 EU countries (all except Bulgaria, Romania, Ireland and the UK) as well as three associated countries: Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
The UK and Ireland decided to stay outside the Schengen area.
Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus only partially apply the Schengen acquis at the moment and checks are therefore still carried out at the borders with those three member states.
News:France opposes further EU visa liberalisation talks
News:Bosnia, Albania on track for visa-free travel by autumn The draft bill, which was endorsed by an overwhelming majority in Parliament yesterday (7 October), faces stiff opposition from France when it is submitted for approval by the 27 EU member states in the EU Council of Ministers.
"I now hope that we will have an agreement with ministers at first reading," said the European Parliament's rapporteur on the resolution, Slovenian MEP Tanja Fajon (Socialists & Democrats).
"This would allow citizens of the two countries to travel freely to spend Christmas with relatives elsewhere in Europe," she said.
France is opposed to lifting visa...