Visas: Council confirms agreement on visa liberalisation for Georgia
Veronica Huertas Cerdeira
Press officer (Home affairs; Counter-terrorism coordination)
On 20 December 2016, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) confirmed, on behalf of the Council, the agreement reached on 13 December with the European Parliament on visa liberalisation for Georgia.
The agreement provides for visa-free travel for EU citizens when travelling to the territory of Georgia and for citizens of this country when travelling to the EU, for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.
The institutions take the view that the entry into force of visa liberalisation for Georgia should be at the same time as the entry into force of the new "suspension mechanism".
"The Council has demonstrated its strong commitment to visa-free travel for Georgian citizens, taking into account Georgia's hard work. The Presidency believes that the path of credible reforms is the right one and should be encouraged. It was the recent upgrade of the suspension mechanism that allowed us to inject a new momentum into talks on visa liberalisation with countries fulfilling all criteria. At the same time, this upgrade will help ensure that those criteria will continue to be met."Robert Kaliňák, Minister for the Interior of Slovakia and President of the Council.
Now that the agreement has been confirmed by the Permanent Representatives Committee, on behalf of the Council, the regulation will be submitted to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading, and to the Council for adoption.
The proposal for visa liberalisation for Georgia was published by the Commission on 9 March 2016. The Commission concluded that the country had met all the benchmarks for the exemption of the visa requirement.
Once the new visa regime for Georgia is formally adopted, it will move the country from Annex I of Regulation 539/2001 (countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the Schengen area) to Annex II of the same regulation (visa free countries), thus providing for visa-free travel for EU citizens when travelling to the territory of Georgia and for citizens of this country when travelling to the EU, for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.
In the context of the current migratory situation in the European Union and taking into account the Commission's proposals for visa liberalisation of Georgia, Ukraine, Turkey and Kosovo and the discussions with member states, the Commission decided on 4 May 2016 to present a proposal to amend Regulation 539/2001 to revise the current suspension mechanism.
The Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement on the new suspension mechanism on 7 December 2016.
Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be subject to the application of these measures, in accordance with the protocols annexed to the EU treaties. The visa regime of these member states remains subject to their national legislation.