Saturday

23rd Mar 2019

EU to ease travel for residents of Russian enclave

  • People in the Russian enclave currently have to apply for Schengen visas to travel through Poland and Lithuania (Photo: EUobserver)

One million people living in the region of Kaliningrad, a Russian territory sandwiched between Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic Sea, will be able to travel without EU visas in the neighbouring countries, under a proposal by the EU commission unveiled on Friday (29 July).

"The solution that the Commission now proposes will facilitate people-to-people contacts and enhance economic co-operation on both sides of the border, without affecting security," home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a press statement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Under the proposal, which needs approval of member states and the European Parliament, the entire 15,000 square kilometre enclave will be considered a border zone.

This will allow neighbouring Poland and Lithuania to issue special permits for the roughly 1 million Kaliningrad inhabitants, enabling them to travel across the border without going through the costly and cumbersome procedure of applying for a Schengen visa, as it is currently the case.

The measure would only apply within a distance of 30km or, in special cases, up to 50km from the Russian border.

"Their lives would be facilitated very much, because often they have to move across the border for a few hours or a limited number of days," Malmstrom's spokesman explained during a press conference.

Annexed from Germany in 1945, Kaliningrad (then Konigsberg) was a closed military zone throughout the Soviet period and still hosts the Russian Baltic fleet and in several military bases.

In 2008, Moscow threatened to deploy missiles there in reaction to the news that Poland would be hosting anti-ballistic missiles under a US plan.

The EU has already made similar border arrangements with Ukraine and Moldova, and is looking at having something in place with Belarus as well, provided the regime changes course on its political prisoners.

Russia may also get a similar border agreement with Norway, a non-EU country which is part of the Schengen area.

Name row on new EU sanctions exposes deeper rift

EU officials have voiced scepticism on proposed new human rights sanctions, amid a "nasty" debate to what extent Russia ought to be named and shamed in the title of the new measures.

Hopeless Gaza Strip ripe for Islamic State, says UN head

Fears are mounting that more extreme militants, possibly linked to the Islamic State, will gain a foothold in the Gaza Strip as trapped youth lose all sense of hope in a conflict that is on the verge of boiling over.

Investigation

Leaked document sheds light on Turkey's controlled 'coup'

More than two years after the failed putsch, evidence is trickling out to support what the EU initially suspected - that Erdogan knew what was going to happen and let it go ahead as a pretext to create one-man rule.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

EU migrants sneaking into US from Mexico

Almost 1,000 Romanian nationals were caught trying to sneak into the United States in 2017, of which around half attempted to cross via Mexico. Nationals from countries like Hungary and the UK were also intercepted.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us