Balkan visa issue moves forward

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iol news pic EU headquarters AP FILE - EU flags fly at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File)

Brussels -

Exasperated EU states have made progress in moves to allow some members such as Germany to reintroduce visas for Balkan EU candidate nations so as to curb soaring unfounded asylum requests, sources said Wednesday.

Cyprus, which holds the rotating six-month presidency, said the European Parliament had agreed the terms of a safeguard clause which would allow the temporary imposition of visas in cases where the system was being abused.

Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands want the European Commission to allow them to reintroduce controls after Serbia and several other Balkan states were given visa-free status in 2010 under the EU's Schengen freedom of movement provisions.

They say that many people are abusing the system to seek asylum in their countries and since each request has to be properly examined, the system has become totally clogged up.

EU interior ministers meeting Thursday will take up the issue but putting the safeguard clause in place may take some time, diplomats said.

“Implementing the change will not happen immediately. Several provisions are included to allow time to find an overall solution before the measure is actually put in place,” one diplomat said. - Sapa-AFP

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