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MEMO/10/601

Brussels, 22 November 2010

European Union signs readmission agreement with Georgia

Today, the European Union and Georgia signed an agreement on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation. A visa facilitation agreement with Georgia, opening the way for easier travel and people-to-people contact across Europe, was already signed on 17 June this year.

"The signature of a readmission agreement is a concrete step forward in EU-Georgia relations." said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs. "The visa facilitation and readmission agreements are a very tangible result of the Eastern Partnership and will promote interaction between citizens of the EU and Georgia and strengthen our cooperation in the fight against irregular immigration. I am very pleased that both agreements have now been signed - this means that Georgians will be able to travel more easily while maintaining the efforts to clamp down on irregular migration”, continued Ms Malmström.

Commissioner Füle added: "Georgia and EU-Georgia relations remain high on our agenda. I warmly welcome the signature of the readmission agreement.  It is a concrete sign of continued effort of the EU to strengthen relations with Georgia. This signature will now allow both the visa facilitation and readmission agreements to be ratified and enter into force, facilitating mobility for Georgian citizens who want to come to the EU. It will make it easier, cheaper and quicker to obtain a short term Schengen visa.''

The readmission agreement sets out clear obligations and procedures for the authorities of both Georgia and the respective EU Member State as to when and how to take back people who are illegally residing on their territories. These obligations cover nationals from Georgia, the EU Member States and those from third countries and stateless people, provided the latter have a clear link with the requested Party (e.g. visa or resident permit). A special accelerated procedure will apply to persons apprehended in common border regions who can be returned within a few days. The agreement contains the necessary safeguards with regard to data protection and the protection of fundamental human rights. Full respect of Human Rights as provided by the European Convention of Human Rights will be guaranteed during the application of the readmission agreement.

The two agreements will enter into force once both Parties have completed their internal ratification procedures. This involves, on the EU side, the European Parliament which will have to give its consent.

Background

In June 2008, the Council invited the Commission to open a dialogue with Georgia to launch a discussion on a Mobility Partnership. The Extraordinary European Council of 1 September 2008 decided "to step up relations with Georgia, including visa facilitation measures". In November 2009, negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements were concluded (IP/08/1406) and the EU and Georgia signed a mobility partnership aiming at promoting a better framework for cooperation on all aspects of migration policy (IP/09/1853). In June 2010 the visa facilitation agreement with Georgia was signed (IP/10/737).

Georgia is one of six countries within the European Partnership established by the EU in May 2009 (Joint Declaration of the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit, 7 May 2009). The purpose of the Eastern Partnership is to deepen and strengthen relations between the EU and its neighbouring countries Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

Since 2006, the EU has concluded visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Russia, Ukraine, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and the Republic of Moldova. Negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission are ongoing with Cape Verde.

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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