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Commissioner Malmström welcomes Parliament vote on visa-free travel with Moldova

European Commission - STATEMENT/14/20   27/02/2014

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European Commission

Statement

Brussels, 27 February 2014

Commissioner Malmström welcomes Parliament vote on visa-free travel with Moldova

Today, the European Parliament approved a Commission proposal to abolish visa requirements for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. The proposal will now be submitted to the Council and, if adopted, Moldova will be transferred to the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirement. The transfer could take place 20 days after publication of the adopted Regulation in the EU Official Journal.

Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström said: "I am very pleased that Moldovan citizens with a biometric passport will soon be able to travel to the Schengen area for short stays without a visa.

The Moldovan authorities have worked hard towards achieving this important goal and their efforts have paid off. This is indeed good news and a tangible step towards closer association and economic integration with the EU.

It is also a clear example of our commitment to deliver on engagements with third countries wishing to work with us and increase people to people contacts and undertake the necessary reforms making visa free travel possible.

Background: from visa facilitations to visa free regime for Moldova

  • As a first step towards the long term goal of visa-free travel, Moldovan citizens already enjoyed the benefits of a Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU since 1 January 2008 (an upgraded Visa Facilitation Agreement entered into force on 1 July 2013).

  • The visa facilitation agreement set a lower visa fee (€35 instead of €60) for all Moldovan visa applicants, and waived 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, participants in cultural exchanges, journalists, etc. The visa facilitation agreement also simplified and accelerated procedures and provided for easier access to multiple-entry visas of longer duration.

  • The Republic of Moldova lifted the visa obligation on EU citizens on 1 January 2007.

  • The EU-Republic of Moldova Visa Liberalisation Dialogue was launched on 15 June 2010 and the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP) was presented to the Moldovan authorities in January 2011 (IP/11/59).

  • In its latest report on the implementation of the VLAP, the Commission considered that the Republic of Moldova met all the benchmarks needed (IP/13/1085).

  • In particular the Republic of Moldova has successfully completed the reform of the Ministry of Interior, modernised its Border Police, continued smooth judicial cooperation in criminal matters with EU Member States and international police cooperation, and put in place a solid framework for deepening the cooperation with Ukraine in the area of border management. The Moldovan authorities have made serious implementation efforts with regard to the Law on Ensuring Equality and the National Human Rights Action Plan, and the strengthening of the Ombudsman's office.

  • Building on this assessment, the Commission proposed to transfer the country to the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirements (IP/13/1170).

  • Following today's vote in the European Parliament, the Council will need to adopt the proposal. Once into force (20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal), the Schengen area visa waiver for short stays will apply to Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. The upgraded Visa Facilitation Agreement will continue to apply to the holders of non-biometric travel documents.

  • The number of short-stay Schengen visa applications from Moldovan citizens has remained stable over the past three years (oscillating between 50,000 and 55,000). At the same time, the refusal rate for visa applications has sharply decreased from 11.4% in 2010 to 6.5% in 2012.


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