Brussels, 4 October 2013
Commission proposes to open negotiations on Visa Facilitation with Morocco
Today the Commission proposed to the Council to open negotiations between the EU and Morocco on an agreement to facilitate the procedures for issuing short-stay visas.
"This is a very concrete and important step in the cooperation between the EU and Morocco. Easier access to visas will reinforce the social and economic development and mutual understanding between our countries and people", said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.
She added: "Recent decisions to establish a new migration and asylum policy in Morocco are yet another positive signal for our cooperation. I very much welcome the far-reaching recommendations contained in the recent report of the National Human Rights Council in Morocco to transform Morocco's policies and practices on migration and asylum to be fairer and in full respect of human rights. I welcome this first step and I stand ready to support the effective implementation of this report's recommendations. In the framework of the Mobility Partnership, the EU has already committed significant support to Morocco to establish a national asylum system and to better address trafficking in human beings”.
The EU-Morocco Mobility Partnership, was signed in June this year and its implementation is currently on-going. It is in this context that the Commission now proposes to open negotiations for facilitating the issuing of short-stay visas to Moroccan citizens.
Some of the proposed facilitations are general for all applicants and other will benefit certain groups of people, particularly students, researchers and business professionals. The list of suggested visa facilitations include the simplification of documentary evidence to be submitted in support of the visa application for certain categories of applicants, the possibility of issuing multiple-entry visas with a long period of validity, the waiving/reducing of the handling fees for specific categories of travellers, set deadlines for processing visa applications, as well as a possible exemption from the visa obligation for holders of diplomatic and service passports.
The Council must now discuss the Commission proposal. Once the mandate is adopted by the Council, the Commission will be able to start negotiations with the Moroccan authorities.
322 094 Schengen visas were issued in 2012 by the consulates of Schengen member countries in Morocco. This makes Morocco seventh in the world in terms of the number of Schengen visas issued.
The visa facilitation negotiations with Morocco will start once the Council gives the Commission the necessary mandate. They will be conducted in the framework of the EU-Morocco Mobility Partnership signed in June (IP/13/513).
The Mobility Partnership is taking account of the interests and objectives of all involved: the EU, its Member States, the partner countries and the migrants themselves. It establishes a set of political objectives and provides for a series of initiatives which are designed to ensure that the movement of persons is managed as effectively as possible. It literally covers all issues related to migration: from how to maximise the impact of migration on development to mobility, regular migration and integration, irregular migration and border management, trafficking in human beings and asylum.
This comprehensive partnership with Morocco is a huge step forward and represents a benchmark for the whole Southern Mediterranean region.
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