Tuesday

16th Jan 2018

Georgia gets green light for EU visa-free travel

  • Georgian citizens can look forward to visa free travel by the end of the year (Photo: wfbakker2)

EU states have agreed to grant Georgian nationals visa-free travel to the Schengen zone, once new safeguards are in place to suspend the deal in case of abuse.

"The council takes the view that the entry into force of visa liberalisation for Georgia should be at the same time as the entry into force of the new 'suspension mechanism'," they said in a statement on Wednesday (5 October).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The news comes ahead of parliamentary elections in Georgia on 8 October and could give a bump to pro-European parties in the poll.

The “suspension mechanism” is a European Commission proposal that will, in future, allow EU states to “snap back” visa restrictions more easily in case of mass-scale overstays or bogus asylum claims by any non-EU country.

Details of the mechanism are still subject to EU states’ negotiations with MEPs.

Those talks are expected to conclude by the end of the year, meaning that Georgian people should be able to visit the 25 Schengen states (22 EU states plus Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland) without permits before 2017.

Reacting to Wednesday’s decision, Georgian foreign minister Mikheil Janelidze said he was “delighted” by the “timely” announcement.

The foreign minister of Slovakia, which currently holds the EU presidency, Miroslav Lajcak said diplomats and MEPs would discuss the mechanism already on Thursday.

He said he could not predict the outcome and that it was difficult to give precise “timelines” for the process.

Berlin had previously blocked Georgia’s path over complaints about a crime wave by Georgian nationals in Germany.

Germany and France had also called for the snap-back arrangements to soothe popular concern over immigration in the context of the refugee crisis.

The Georgia deal is part of broader EU plans to open up to visitors also from Kosovo, Ukraine and Turkey.

Kosovo has to step up the fight against organised crime and settle a border dispute with Montenegro before the EU goes further.

Ukraine has met all the EU’s technical benchmarks, but member states want to see progress on anti-corruption reforms before going ahead.

“It is in the pipeline, but not there yet”, Slovakia’s Lajcak said on the Ukraine deal.

Turkey needs to meet seven out 72 benchmarks, including a revision of its anti-terrorism laws, which the EU says are so broad that they are open to being used to silence journalists or other government critics.

Ankara has said it is unwilling to make that change due to the security situation at home.

The Turkey visa deal is part of a wider accord under which Turkey stops irregular migrants from going to Greece, raising the stakes for a positive outcome.

Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, the EU had also been in advanced talks on visa-free travel for Russian nationals, but those negotiations were put on hold as part of Europe’s sanctions regime.

MEPs back visa-free travel for Georgians

The small Caucasian republic could get an EU visa waiver before its parliamentary elections in October. Kosovo, Turkey and Ukraine are also on the list, but may have to wait longer.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  3. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  4. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  5. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  6. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  7. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  8. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  10. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  11. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  12. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology

Latest News

  1. Post-Brexit trade roll-over not automatic, EU paper says
  2. Oettinger pushes plastic tax but colleagues express doubts
  3. MEPs target exports of cyber surveillance tech
  4. Kosovo killing halts EU talks in Brussels
  5. ECB withheld information on 'flawed' bank supervision
  6. Fewer MEPs than visitors turn up for Estonian PM
  7. EU names China and Russia as top hackers
  8. Ten Commandments to overcome the EU's many crises