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European Commission

Statement

Brussels, 27 February 2014

Commissioner Malmström on the European Parliament vote: visa-free travel for the nationals of 19 third countries moves one step closer

I am pleased that once the necessary procedures are completed, nationals from 16 small island nations in the Caribbean and Pacific regions, the United Arab Emirates, Peru and Colombia will be able to come to the Schengen area without a visa - be it for business, touristic or family visit purposes. This will open up opportunities and advantages also for EU citizens, as any existing visa requirement for EU citizens to travel to these countries will be eliminated.

The solution found to include Peru and Colombia on the visa-free list is a good result. It strikes the right balance between the desire to offer visa-free travel to Peruvian and Colombian nationals and the need to avoid migratory risks and safeguard the security of the EU. In this regard, the Commission is committed to prepare the necessary additional assessment for Peru and Colombia as soon as possible", said Cecilia Malmström Commissioner for Home Affairs.

Background

In November 2012, the Commission proposed to add 5 Caribbean Island Nations (Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago), 10 Pacific Island Nations (Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) and Timor-Leste to the list of third countries and territories whose nationals are exempt from the visa obligation. Certain categories of British citizens who are not nationals of the UK, in particular British overseas territories citizens, were also included in the visa-free proposal.

Following discussions with the European Parliament and the Council it was agreed to add the UAE, Peru and Colombia to the original list of visa-free countries proposed by the Commission.

After the publication in the Official Journal of the amended visa free-list (Regulation 539/2001), the Commission will seek mandates from the Council to negotiate visa waiver agreements with each of these 19 countries. If these mandates are granted, the Commission will negotiate these agreements. It will submit for approval to the Council and European Parliament the final result of the negotiations.. When ratification procedures are completed in both the EU and the concerned third country, the visa waiver agreement will enter into force for citizens of that country, thus enabling visa-free travel. This could happen in 2015 at the earliest.

For Peru and Colombia, an additional step will be required: the Commission will only seek the Council's mandate to authorise negotiations of such agreements after it has presented a positive risk assessment confirming that these two countries meet the criteria to enjoy visa-free, in particular those related to irregular migration and public policy and security.


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