EU-Georgia agreement on the facilitation of the issuance of visa

The EU and Geor­gia signed today a visa facil­i­ta­tion agree­ment at a cer­e­mo­ny that took place in Brus­sels. The EU was rep­re­sent­ed by Miguel Ángel Morati­nos, Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs of Spain in his capac­i­ty as Pres­i­dent of the Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union, and Cecil­ia Malm­ström, EU Com­mis­sion­er for Home Affairs. Geor­gia was rep­re­sent­ed by Grigol Vashadze, Geor­gian Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs. The agree­ment will now be sent to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment with a view to obtain­ing its con­sent. The agree­ment makes it eas­i­er and cheap­er for Geor­gian cit­i­zens, in par­tic­u­lar those who trav­el most, to acquire short stay visas allow­ing them to trav­el to and freely through­out the EU. A short stay visa is a visa for an intend­ed stay of no more than 90 days per peri­od of 180 days. EU cit­i­zens are already exempt from the visa oblig­a­tion when trav­el­ling to or tran­sit­ing through Geor­gia since 1 June 2006.

The agree­ment sub­stan­tial­ly sim­pli­fies the nec­es­sary sup­port­ing doc­u­ments for a visa appli­ca­tion for cer­tain cat­e­gories of per­sons, e.g. close rel­a­tives who are vis­it­ing Geor­gian cit­i­zens resid­ing in the EU, busi­ness­men, sci­en­tists, stu­dents and jour­nal­ists. For some cat­e­gories of fre­quent trav­ellers and under cer­tain con­di­tions, mem­ber states are sup­posed to issue mul­ti-entry visas with long peri­ods of valid­i­ty. Hold­ers of diplo­mat­ic pass­ports are exempt­ed from the visa oblig­a­tion.

As a gen­er­al rule, the agree­ment stip­u­lates that a deci­sion upon the request to issue a visa must be tak­en with­in 10 cal­en­dar days. The agree­ment also reduces the visa han­dling fee from €60 to €35 for all Geor­gian cit­i­zens and pro­vide a total exemp­tion from the visa fee for cer­tain cat­e­gories of appli­cants, e.g. close rel­a­tives who are vis­it­ing Geor­gian cit­i­zens resid­ing in the EU, pen­sion­ers, chil­dren below the age of 12, dis­abled per­sons, sci­en­tists, stu­dents and jour­nal­ists.

Fol­low­ing the man­date giv­en by the Coun­cil on 28 Novem­ber 2008, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion start­ed the nego­ti­a­tions of the visa facil­i­ta­tion agree­ment with Geor­gia and sub­mit­ted its pro­pos­al for a deci­sion on the sign­ing of the agree­ment to the Coun­cil on 5 May 2010.

Visa facil­i­ta­tion agree­ments go usu­al­ly hand-in-hand with read­mis­sion agree­ments between the EU and third coun­tries. The read­mis­sion agree­ment with Geor­gia is expect­ed to be signed with­in the fol­low­ing weeks. Both, the visa facil­i­ta­tion and the read­mis­sion agree­ments will enter into force on the same day.

Read­mis­sion agree­ments set out clear oblig­a­tions and pro­ce­dures for the author­i­ties of EU mem­ber states and the third coun­tries con­cerned as to when and how to take back peo­ple who are ille­gal­ly resid­ing on the ter­ri­to­ries of the par­ties. They cov­er not only the ille­gal­ly stay­ing nation­als of both par­ties but also third coun­try nation­als and state­less per­sons being in an irreg­u­lar sit­u­a­tion pro­vid­ed they have a clear link with the request­ed par­ty (e.g. visa or res­i­dent per­mit). Full respect of Human Rights as pro­vid­ed by the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion of Human Rights is guar­an­teed dur­ing the appli­ca­tion of read­mis­sion agree­ments.

So far, the EU has signed visa facil­i­ta­tion and read­mis­sion agree­ments with eight coun­tries: Alba­nia, Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina, For­mer Yugoslav Repub­lic of Mace­do­nia (FYROM), the Repub­lic of Moldo­va, Mon­tene­gro, Rus­sia, Ser­bia and Ukraine. Nego­ti­a­tions are ongo­ing with Cape Verde.

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union