LIBE Committee supported visa liberalization Legislative initiative of Georgia
TBILISI, DFWatch–In a vote on Monday, a majority in the EU Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) supported giving visa-free access to the Schengen area for Georgian citizen.
44 voted for raising visa rules for Georgian citizens, while five voted against. Germany was among the countries that voiced strong reservations, according to Reuters.
It was Germany that took the initiative in June to put the brakes on further visa liberalization in the EU, after a migrant crisis brought more than a million people into Europe last year.
At the same meeting Monday, the “LIBE” committee also supported offering visa-free travel to citizens of Kosovo.
After the vote, the proposal still needs to go through further rounds of negotiations within the EU’s complicated decision-making procedures before a final decision can be made.
EU enlargement czar Johannes Hahn recently told Radio Liberty that he thinks this procedure may be completed in October or November.
Visas: Council adopts regulation on visa liberalisation for GeorgiansOn 27 February 2017, the Council adopted a regulation on visa liberalisation for Georgians travelling to the EU for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period. Maltese Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela stated that, "This agreement will bring the people of Georgia and the EU closer together and will strengthen tourism and business ties. It follows the completion of the necessary reforms by Georgia, addressing document security, border management, migration and asylum. In addition, the recent adaptation of the suspension mechanism has made this agreement possible." The Council and the European Parliament now need to sign the adopted regulation. The text will then be published in the EU Official Journal and will enter into force 20 days later, at the same time as the new visa waiver suspension mechanism. The regulation formally amends regulation 539/2001, moving Georgia from Annex I (countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the Schengen area) to Annex II (visa free countries). Georgian citizens with a biometric passport travelling to the EU for up to 90 days for business, tourist or family purposes will no longer need a visa. These measures will not apply to Ireland and the United Kingdom, in accordance with the protocols annexed to the EU treaties. The visa regime of these member states remains subject to their national legislation.
Georgia visa waiver approved by Parliament
Georgian citizens will be able to enter the Schengen area without a visa for short stays, under a new law passed by Parliament on Thursday.
The legislation still needs to be formally approved by the Council and will only enter into force once the visa suspension mechanism, which allows the temporary reintroduction of visas in the event of migration surges or risks to public security, is in place.
Parliament´s rapporteur for the proposal, Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG), acknowledged the “broad and complex reforms” carried out by Georgia in order to get the visa waiver and thanked the country's authorities and citizens for their consistency and patience. She also congratulated them on the strength of their democratic conviction and noted that the visa exemption brings the country closer to the EU.
Under the visa exemption, endorsed in plenary by 553 votes to 66, with 28 abstentions, Georgians who hold a biometric passport will have the right to enter the EU visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period, for business, tourist or family purposes, but not to work.
Tbilisi has complied with all the benchmarks of its visa liberalisation plan, the text notes, underlining that “continuous fulfilment by Georgia of such criteria, especially on the fight against organised crime, will be duly monitored by the Commission”.
The visa waivers apply to the Schengen area, which includes 22 EU member states (all except Ireland, the UK, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria), plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The legal change transferring Georgia from the list of countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the EU (the “negative” list) to the list of countries exempted from this requirement (the “positive” list) will have now to be approved by the Council of Ministers. Following its formal signature, the text will be published in the EU Official Journal.
The visa waiver for Georgia will enter into force on the same date as the revised visa suspension mechanism, approved by Parliament on 15 December but still pending finalisation of the official translation of the legal texts.
Mariya Gabriel on LIBE Committee support to Georgia's visa free regime
“Greatly appreciate the support of LIBE Committee for Georgia's Visa.Lib process-Thanks for twoday's voting”-this post was made by the Vice President of the EPPGroup Head of the Bulgarian EPP Delegation.
According to Mariya Gabriel, this is a signal that European Parliament continues supporting Georgia and it’s Government.
As you know, LIBE Committee supported visa liberalization of Georgia today.
LIBE Committee supported visa free regime for Georgian citizens
LIBE Committee supported visa free regime for Georgian citizens. 45 deputies participated in the voting. Only 2 detupies came against visa liberalization for Georgia. The Plenary session will hold in February.
Coreper confirmed an achieved agreement with European Parliament at 13 of December, 2016. As it is reported, Georgian citizens will allowed in Schengen Zone without visas in the nearest future.
Prime Minister Hopes All Visa Liberalization Procedures Will Be Finalized in Nearest Future
I certainly hope that all visa liberalization procedures will be finalized in the nearest future, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili stated at today's government meeting.
The Head of Government welcomes the agreement on the so-called suspension mechanism, recently reached between the EU Council and the European Parliament, which, according to him, is the most important stage on the path to a final decision.
"We still have a number of procedures ahead, which is why we are passing through this process gradually, step by step, and I certainly hope that all relevant procedures will be finalized in the nearest future. Georgia has meet all benchmarks under the Visa Liberalization Action Plan. Of course, our friends in Brussels and European capitals are supporting us in this process," the Prime Minister stated, thanking them for their immense solidarity.
According to Giorgi Kvirikashvili, European integration is Georgia's top strategic priority.
"It is not just a foreign policy priority, but a priority that largely defines our domestic reform agenda in order to better the country's living standards and advance economic development to align it with the level befitting a European country and a true member state of the European family. Therefore, it is a major achievement. This process continues and will be finalized very soon," the Prime Minister pointed out.