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IP/10/1040

Brussels, 6 August 2010

Towards a full short-stay visa waiver for European citizens to Brazil

Today the Commission adopted draft decisions on signature and conclusion of the short-stay visa waiver agreements with Brazil for holders of ordinary passports and for holders of diplomatic, service and official passports. Existing bilateral agreements between Brazil and EU countries will remain in place.

"Once these agreements enter into force, they will have a real positive impact on the everyday life of our citizens, especially of the citizens of Malta, Estonia, Cyprus and Latvia which for the time being still need a visa to travel to Brazil", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Home Affairs Commissioner. "The Commission will make every effort in order to enable the signature and ratification of these agreements at the earliest possible occasion."

The EU-Brazil visa waiver agreements will give reciprocal access to visa-free travel for all Brazilian and EU citizens, including the nationals of the four Member States (Malta, Estonia, Cyprus and Latvia) not enjoying visa-free travel to Brazil at present.

The agreement for ordinary passport holders covers travel for the purposes of tourism and business. At the same time it provides that the bilateral agreements concluded between Brazil and the Member States including categories not covered by the EU-Brazil agreement continue to apply. This way EU citizens willing to travel for reasons other than tourism and business will continue to benefit from the visa waiver under these bilateral agreements.

The adoption of the today's proposals marks a further important step towards the conclusion of these short-stay visa waiver agreements between the European Union and Brazil. Once the agreements are concluded, all EU citizens will be able to travel visa-free to Brazil, putting an end to the long-lasting non-reciprocity issue between Brazil and four EU Member States.

The decisions on signature have to be approved by the Council, which will enable the signature of the two agreements by the contracting parties.

Background

In accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001, Brazilian nationals can travel to all Member States of the European Union without requiring a visa for short stays. This should be reciprocated by Brazil. However the country still requires a visa from the nationals of four Member States: Estonia, Cyprus, Malta and Latvia.

For constitutional reasons, Brazil cannot grant a visa waiver for these Member States unilaterally, therefore it is necessary to conclude a visa waiver agreement to be ratified by its Parliament.

Brazil has bilateral visa waiver agreements with the Member States, except the four concerned. These bilateral agreements differ from each other considerably as regards their personal scope of application (i.e. as regards the categories of persons benefiting from the visa waiver).

It stems from the nature of the common visa policy and the exclusive external competence of the European Union in this area that only the Union can negotiate and conclude a visa waiver agreement, and not the individual Member States. Therefore, on 18 April 2008, the Council adopted a decision authorizing the Commission to open negotiations on the conclusion of a short-stay visa-waiver agreement between the European Union and Brazil. The negotiations started on 2 July 2008.

During the negotiations, the Contracting Parties agreed to conclude two separate agreements: one on ordinary passport holders and the other on diplomatic and service passport holders (the latter does not need to be ratified by the Brazilian Congress, thus its ratification can go quicker and separately from the agreement on ordinary passport holders).

At the last round of negotiations held in Brasilia on 29 September – 1 October 2009, the text of a short-stay visa-waiver agreement for ordinary passport holders between the EU and Brazil could be finalized and thus the negotiations were concluded. The negotiations on the visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and service passports were finalized at the end of 2009.

The formal initialing of the two agreements took place on 28 April 2010.

The visa waiver agreement for ordinary passport holders preserves the bilateral agreements, in so far as they establish visa-free travel for categories of persons not covered by the EU-Brazil agreement. The European Union might suspend the agreement if Brazil starts denouncing the existing bilateral agreements.

Duration of stay

The agreement takes into account the situation of the Member States that do not yet apply Schengen rules in full. As long as they are not part of the Schengen area without internal borders, the visa waiver confers a right for the nationals of Brazil to stay for three months on the territory of each of those Member States (Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania), independently of the period calculated for the whole Schengen area.

The duration of stay is limited by the agreement to three months during a six-month period in the Schengen area. Thus, this agreement puts an end to the possibility provided to Brazilian nationals by the bilateral agreements to cumulate the three months stays per Member State in the Schengen area.

The final content of the visa waiver agreement for diplomatic, service or official passport holders is similar with the exception that it applies for all purposes of travel.

For more information

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/welcome/default_en.htm

Justice and Home Affairs Newsroom:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/news/intro/news_intro_en.htm


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