The European Commission said it will propose tomorrow (24 May) to reintroduce visas for Western Balkan countries whose citizens abuse the system.
The measure will punish countries such as Serbia and Macedonia for failing to stop their citizens from taking advantage of visa-free travel rights to request asylum once they reach one of the EU's 27 member states (see 'Background').
Following complaints from waves of asylum seekers, Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström will propose the introduction of a safeguard clause to permit the reintroduction of visa requirements for third countries.
According to AFP, the sanction comes at the request of the "vast majority of EU countries".
The safeguard mechanism was introduced last November, when visa requirements were lifted for citizens of Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina. But the mechanism also applies to Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
Faced with a surge of asylum seekers from Serbia and Macedonia, mainly ethnic Roma and Albanians, Belgium has sent its migration minister, Melchior Wathelet, to Belgrade to convey his country's concerns.
Malmström's proposal will be submitted to EU interior ministers for approval at their 9-10 June meeting in Luxembourg.
According to various reports, the asylum seekers from the Western Balkans are mainly of Roma and Albanian ethnicity and their asylum requests are based on economic considerations.
Many of the asylum seekers are in fact perfectly aware that they will not be granted asylum but they nevertheless take advantage of the assessment period for their applications, during which they are provided with free accommodation and some pocket money.