European Council adopts regulation on visa liberalisation for Georgians
27 February, 2017
European Council adopts regulation on visa liberalisation for Georgians
On 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, Council of the European Union reports.


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.

Background

In December 2015, the Commission found that Georgia had met all the benchmarks of the visa liberalisation action plan and was therefore ready for the exemption of the visa requirement. Following this, on 9 March 2016 the Commission presented a proposal for visa liberalisation for Georgian citizens. The Council and the European Parliament reached an agreement on the proposal on 13 December 2016.

In the context of the current migratory and security situation in the European Union, and taking into account its proposals on visa liberalisation for Georgia, Ukraine, Turkey and Kosovo, the Commission decided in May 2016 to present a proposal for a regulation revising the current suspension mechanism. The revised suspension mechanism allows, in specific circumstances, to suspend the visa waiver for the nationals of a specific country.

The institutions took 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 also adopted the regulation on the revised suspension mechanism on 27 February 2017.

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