Brussels, 25 February 2013
Commissioner Malmström presents Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation with Georgia
Today in Tbilisi, Georgia, Commissioner Malmström will hand the Action Plan for Visa Liberalisation over to Georgia's authorities. The presentation of the Action Plan represents a further step towards full visa liberalisation. It clearly sets out all technical conditions to be met by Georgia before the possible establishment of a visa-free travel regime.
"I want to congratulate the Georgian authorities for their efforts made so far in pursuing the necessary reforms and making the start of the visa dialogue and the delivery of this Action Plan possible. This is yet another step towards visa-free travel for Georgian citizens and the shared goal of closer integration between the EU and Georgia", declared Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
The action plan is structured in four blocks of measures dealing respectively with document security, border and migration management, public order and security, and relevant external relations issues.
It 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.
Georgian authorities are encouraged to continue working hand in hand to pursue the necessary reforms in all the areas relevant for the visa liberalisation dialogue, including: fight against corruption and organised crime, data protection, anti-discrimination and protection of minorities, as well as judicial reform aiming at ensuring the independence of the justice system.
The Commission will regularly assess the effective and consistent fulfilment and implementation by Georgia of each set of benchmarks.
At the occasion of her visit, Commissioner Malmström will have meetings with Georgia's President, Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as other members of the Georgian government.
During her stay, Commissioner Malmström will also have the opportunity to meet with a number of Georgian NGOs working in the areas of migration, human rights and good governance.
The European Commission started a dialogue on visa liberalisation with Georgia in June 2012 (IP/12/561). The Action Plan presented today will be the main instrument to conduct this dialogue. It allows the EU and the Georgian authorities to examine all the technical preconditions for the establishment of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens.
Together with other recently adopted measures such as the establishment of a Mobility Partnership in 2009 IP/09/1853 and the entry into force of the Visa Facilitation and Readmission agreements in 2011, this Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation constitutes another building block in the shared goal of closer integration between the EU and Georgia.
As a first step towards the long term goal of visa-free travel, Georgian citizens already enjoy the benefits of a visa facilitation agreement with the EU since March 2011. The visa facilitation agreement sets a lower visa fee for all Georgian citizens and waives fees for broad categories of visa applicants 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, or journalists. The visa facilitation agreement also accelerates procedures for assessing visa applications and sets the obligation of issuing multiple-entry visas with long period of validity for certain categories of frequent travellers.
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