Brussels, 5 November 2010
The European Commission adopts its sixth report on visa reciprocity with third countries
The European Commission has adopted its sixth report on certain third countries' maintenance of visa requirements in breach of the principle of reciprocity. The report shows that progress towards full reciprocity has been achieved and only a very limited number of "non-reciprocity" cases remain.
"The new report shows that further progress towards ensuring visa-free travel for all our citizens to third countries on our positive list has been achieved" said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs. She added: "Two visa waiver agreements will very soon be signed with Brazil. Some steps towards the restoration of visa-free travel for Czech citizens wishing to visit Canada have also been made. Regarding the few cases of non-reciprocity that continue to exist, the dialogue must continue in order to achieve full reciprocity with the third countries concerned (Canada and the US) as soon as possible".
The sixth report takes stock of steps taken to achieve reciprocity since the last report in October 2009. The main elements can be summarised as follows:
With Brazil the European Union will sign very soon two visa waiver agreements: one on ordinary passport holders, the other on holders of diplomatic, service or official passports, which will ensure visa reciprocity. Upon their ratification, a considerable improvement for EU citizens will be achieved, in particular those of Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia and Malta who still had to apply for a visa to enter Brazil.
Brunei Darussalam grants all EU citizens a visa waiver, but it is valid only for 30 days, renewable twice for 30 days. Even though the current situation did not lead to problems for EU citizens so far, the Commission requested the authorities of Brunei Darussalam to grant EU citizens a 90-days visa waiver.
Since the reintroduction of the visa requirement by Canada for Czech citizens in July 2009, a path of measures has been established in order to allow Canada to lift the visa requirement again before the new Canadian asylum legislation will be implemented. Following the Canada-Czech Republic Experts Working Group meeting on 20 September in Prague, the Commission considers that some limited steps were made. The Commission will monitor closely the result-oriented implementation of the path of measures in early 2011.
The other remaining cases of non-reciprocity relate to the United States of America (a visa requirement is maintained for citizens of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Poland) and Canada (a visa requirement is in force for Bulgaria and Romania). In these cases, the U.S and Canada consider that the Member States concerned do not yet meet all criteria for visa exemption set in their legislation (e.g. that they are not issuing biometric passports or not meeting thresholds set for visa refusal and/or overstay rates). The Commission will pursue discussions with the two countries in order to achieve full visa reciprocity as soon as possible. The Commission also invites the European Parliament, the Council and the Member States to reflect on how to further address these cases of non-reciprocity.
Not all citizens from third countries must have a visa in order to travel to the Schengen area. The EU has a common list of countries whose citizens must have a visa (‘the negative list’) and a list of countries whose citizens are exempt from that requirement (‘the positive list’) (see Council Regulation (EC) 539/2001).
It is therefore logical that, in the spirit of solidarity, the EU also seeks that third countries on the positive list grant visa waiver to all EU citizens and treat all Member States in the same way. For this reason, a visa reciprocity mechanism has been set up (through Council Regulation (EC) N° 851/2005)
If a country on the "positive list" introduces a visa requirement for one or more EU Member States, the Member State(s) concerned must notify the Commission which takes steps with the authorities of the third country to restore visa-free travel and reports to the European Parliament and the Council. The Commission can also propose to the Council retaliatory measures vis-à-vis the third country in question.
The Commission has already issued several general reports regarding the implementation of the visa reciprocity mechanism and one ad-hoc report on the re-introduction of a visa requirement by Canada for Czech nationals. This ad-hoc report and the previous general report were adopted on 19 October 2009.
For more information
Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:
Homepage DG Home Affairs: