Concerned over the growing levels of Albanian criminal activity, the Dutch Parliament voted today to restore visas for Albanian citizens.

Albanian media report that the decision of the Tweede Kamer will empower the Dutch Government to go to Brussels and request that the European Union again imposes a visa regime on Albanians, who have been able to travel freely across most of the EU since 2010.

According to the arguments presented before the Parliament, there is a growing number of Albanian citizens who arrive in the Netherlands, ostensibly as tourists, but in reality are engaged in smuggling drugs into the United Kingdom.

This would represent a step backwards for Albania, shortly ahead of the European Parliament elections, at a time when the country hopes to move forward by opening EU accession talks. The Netherlands, along with France and Denmark, are among the most vocal opponents of opening accession talks for Albania. By extension, this could apply to Macedonia as well, which is seen as part of a de-facto enlargement group with Albania.