EU signs visa waiver agreements with 7 ACP countries
Veronica Huertas Cerdeira
Press officer (Home affairs; Counter-terrorism coordination)
On 28 May the EU signed short-stay visa waiver agreements with St Lucia, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Republic of Vanuatu, the independent State of Samoa and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, at a ceremony that took place in Brussels. On behalf of the EU, the agreements were signed by Ms. Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, Parliamentary State Secretary for EU Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Latvia, and by Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship. On the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) side, representatives from the 7 countries signed the agreements.
The new visa regime provides for visa-free travel for EU citizens when travelling to the territory of these countries and for citizens of these countries when travelling to the EU, for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period. "Today's agreements will encourage people-to-people contacts, boost tourism, and invigorate business between the EU and these seven ACP countries", said Ms. Zanda Kalniņa -Lukaševica, Parliamentary State Secretary for EU Affairs of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Latvia.
In order to benefit from visa-free travel, citizens from the EU and the signatory countries must be in possession of a valid ordinary, diplomatic, service/official or special passport. Visa-free travel applies to all categories of persons and for any kind of purposes of travel (for instance tourism, cultural visits, scientific activities, family visits, business etc.), except to persons travelling for the purpose of carrying out a paid activity.
The decisions on the conclusion of the agreements will now be sent to the European Parliament with a view to obtaining its consent before they can be concluded. However, they will apply on a provisional basis as from 28 May 2015.
Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be subject to the application of the agreement, in accordance with the protocols annexed to the EU treaties. The visa regime to these member states remains subject to their national legislation.