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IP/11/59

Brussels, 24 January 2011

Commissioner Malmström presents Action Plan on visa liberalisation with the Republic of Moldova

The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, started today a two-day visit to the Republic of Moldova. Commissioner Malmström will present the Action Plan on visa liberalisation to Prime Minister Vlad Filat. The Action Plan sets out all technical conditions to be met by Moldova before the possible establishment of a visa-free travel regime.

"This is a step further towards the long-term goal of a future visa free regime that would facilitate people-to-people contacts and strengthen business, social and cultural ties between the European Union and Moldova. Provided that the relevant conditions for well-managed and secure mobility are put in place, a future visa-free regime could add a very tangible element to Moldova's closer political association and economic integration with the EU", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.

The presentation of the Action Plan represents a further step towards full visa liberalisation. The action plan focuses on key areas such as security of travel documents, border and migration management, public order and security, including the fight against organised crime and trafficking in human beings, as well as relevant external relations issues. The Action Plan contains a first set of benchmarks concerning the policy framework (legislation and planning) and a second set of more specific benchmarks, covering effective and sustainable implementation of relevant measures including concrete results on the ground.

At the occasion of her visit, Commissioner Malmström will also meet with the Acting President of the Republic of Moldova and Chairman of the Parliament, Mr Marian Lupu, and the Moldovan Minister of the Interior, Mr Alexei Roibu. Commissioner Malmström will discuss EU cooperation in the field of mobility, migration and security and call upon her counterparts to continue pursuing an ambitious reform and EU approximation agenda.

During her stay, Commissioner Malmström will give the opening speech at the international conference "The Eastern Partners' contribution to the Stockholm Programme: Synergies to improve mobility and strengthen security" that the Moldovan government will host on 24-25 January 2011 in Chisinau. Moreover, Commissioner Malmström will visit the Common Visa Application Centre hosted by the Hungarian Embassy, the Centre for Fighting Trafficking in Human Beings and the Centre for Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners.

Background

As a first step towards the long term goal of visa-free travel, Moldovan citizens already enjoy the benefits of a visa facilitation agreement with the EU since 1 January 2008. The Republic of Moldova lifted the visa obligation on EU citizens on 1 January 2007. The visa facilitation agreement sets a lower visa fee (€35 instead of €60) for all Moldovan visa applicants, and waives fees for broad categories of citizens such as children, pensioners, students, people visiting family members living in the EU, people in need of medical treatment, economic operators working with EU companies, sportsmen and women, participants in cultural exchanges, journalists, etc. In 2009 and 2010, more than half of Schengen visas issued in Moldova were issued free of charge. The visa facilitation agreement also simplifies and accelerates procedures and provides for easier access to multiple-entry visas of longer duration. Further facilitations shall be introduced by the envisaged renegotiation of the visa facilitation agreement.

At the EU-Republic of Moldova Cooperation Council on 21 December 2009 the parties agreed to launch during 2010 a dialogue examining the conditions for future visa-free travel of Moldovan citizens to the EU. The European Commission duly launched a dialogue on visa-free travel with the Republic of Moldova on 15 June 2010. This visa dialogue allowed the European Union and the Moldovan authorities to examine the technical preconditions for the establishment of a visa-free regime for Moldovan citizens. On 16 December 2010, the Council endorsed the Commission’s Action Plan on visa liberalisation for the Republic of Moldova.

The international conference "The Eastern Partners' contribution to the Stockholm Programme: Synergies to improve mobility and strengthen security" aims to explore the opportunities for further EU-Eastern Partnership countries' cooperation in the area of freedom, security and justice and to present the Eastern partners' vision and priorities in this regard.

The Common Visa Application Centre was set up by Hungary in 2007 to facilitate the processing of Schengen visa applications. Visas applications for 14 European Union Member States can be introduced in this centre that received and processed some 17,000 visas applications in 2010.

The Moldovan Centre for Fighting Trafficking in Human Beings is responsible for implementing the state policy in the field of fighting against trafficking in human beings. The main task of the Centre is to investigate, detain and prosecute individuals and organizations involved in trafficking in human beings and illegal migration in the Republic of Moldova and in the region.

The Centre for the Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners deals mainly with irregular migrants in Moldova (irregularly staying third country nationals pending an administrative procedure and their readmission to countries of origin). The Centre started working in 2008 in order to implement the commitments under the 2008 EU-Moldova Readmission Agreement.

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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