The European Parliament voted Tuesday to allow visa-free visits to the EU for citizens of Kosovo, starting by the end of next year.

Kosovo, once a Serbian province in the former Yugoslavia, is the last territory in the Western Balkans without visa-free travel to the EU's Schengen travel area.

The reform will be welcomed in Pristina as another step towards full recognition and a boost for the European ambition of a territory that won independence after a 1998-1999 war.

Serbia still does not recognise the independence of its former breakaway province, and nor do five EU member states: Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia and Romania.

"This finally enables the people of Kosovo to easily travel, visit relatives and do business in the EU," said Austrian socialist MEP Thijs Reuten, who guided the measure through parliament.

"But it is more than that: this milestone is also an important foundation for the future and ever-closer cooperation between the EU and Kosovo."

Kosovo citizens will be allowed to travel to the EU, and European citizens to go to Kosovo, without requesting a visa, for periods of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

The measure will come into force once the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is in place to allow member states to better share information.

But if putting the system in place takes too long, the law will still go into effect at the end of 2024.