Visa liberalisation negotiations between the EU and the Western Balkans (excluding Kosovo) started in the first half of 2008 and were completed in 2009 (for Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) and 2010 (for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina). Before the total abolition of visas, the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) had signed in 2008 ”visa facilitation agreements” with the Schengen countries. Visa facilitation agreements were then intended to reduce waiting times, reduce visa fees (including free visas for certain categories of travellers) and reduce red tape. However, in practice, the new procedures have proved to be longer, more cumbersome and more costly, and many people have complained that it is easier to obtain visas before the entry into force of the facilitation agreements.    Given border controls, there is concern that traffic jams have accumulated, which could lead to uncomfortable delays. Negotiations are ongoing and it is hoped that an agreement can be reached before the end of the year. Permits are issued with a validity period of between one and five years and allow you to stay in the border area for a maximum of three months. Permits can only be issued to legitimate residents of the border area who have been in the border area for at least one year (or more, if the bilateral agreement so provides). Applicants for approval must demonstrate that they have legitimate reasons for frequently crossing an external land border under the local border transport regime. Schengen States must keep a central register of authorisations issued and allow other Schengen States immediate access to relevant data. A British government spokesman appeared to reject the idea of Schengen membership in favor of ”border agreements with Spain that promote fluidity and shared prosperity in the region.” A Spanish diplomat has hinted that an agreement on airline landing rights for flights between the EU and the UK, reached during Brexit negotiations, would not apply to Gibraltar International Airport.  However, from 2018-2019, all flights at the airport to and from the UK or Morocco (not affected by Brexit) and none to the EU. As an alternative, Malaga Airport (distance of 125 kilometers (78 miles) offers many flights from the EU.
Of the 27 EU Member States, 22 participate in the Schengen area. Of the five EU Member States that are not part of the Schengen area, four – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania – are legally obliged to join in the future, while the other – Ireland – maintains an opt-out. The four member states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, are not members of the EU, but have signed agreements related to the Schengen Agreement. Three European micro-states that are not members of the European Union, but are enclaves or half-slaves within an EU member state – Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City – are de facto part of the Schengen area. On 18 October 11, 2018, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that he had reached an agreement with Great Britain, declared that the Gibraltar Protocol was ”resolved” and added that the Spanish government would not oppose the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU, since Gibraltar is one of the British Overseas Territories and is currently within the EU.   Any dispute Spain has or may have over Gibraltar`s sovereignty no longer has any influence on a future trade deal between Britain and the EU.  Vatican City has an open border with Italy. In 2006, it expressed interest in joining the Schengen Agreement for closer cooperation on the exchange of information and similar activities under the Schengen Information System.  Exceptionally, Italy allowed people to visit Vatican City without being accepted for an Italian visa, and then to be escorted by police between the airport and the Vatican or to use a helicopter. [Citation required] However, there is no customs union (or customs duties) between Italy and the Vatican, which is why all vehicles are checked at the borders of Vaticano. .