Saturday

25th Mar 2017

MEPs back visa-free travel for Georgians

  • Georgia is first on the list of countries hoping to get visa-free Schengen travels for their nationals. (Photo: Gill M L)

Members of the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (Libe) have broadly backed the idea to lift visas for Georgian citizens travelling to the EU.

The committee voted in favour of the deal with Georgia on Monday (6 September) by 44 votes to five, and EU officials will now continue negotiations to finalise the agreement.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

EU governments had delayed visa liberalisation for Georgia this summer after Germany said Georgian gangs were responsible for a crime wave in the country.

Berlin insisted that visa waivers should be delayed until the bloc agreed easier rules to suspend visa-free travel, a process that is now under way.

Georgia’s president Giorgi Margvelashvili told EUobserver in June that if the visa deal failed, pro-Russian parties could be boosted in parliamentary elections to be held in October.

Claire Moody, a British Labour MEP, said the waiver is important not only for Georgia, but also for the EU.

"Georgia’s bid to gain visa-free travel to the Schengen zone has suffered numerous delays, despite the country having been recognised as 'ready' in December 2015,” the MEP, who is the co-chair of the EU-Georgia friendship group in the European Parliament, wrote in an op-ed for EUobserver on Monday.

"The EU should now embrace Georgia’s success."

Meanwhile, the Libe committee also suggested granting visa waivers to Ukrainians, but stalled on a similar proposal for Kosovans.

The European Commission said last year that Georgia and Ukraine had fulfilled all the technical benchmarks to grant their citizens visa-free travels, adding Kosovo and Turkey to that list in May.

But all of these projects have since stumbled.

The committee is due to vote on the Ukraine deal later this month. Ukraine’s visa deal, however, is marred by the country’s failure to fight corruption.

MEPs endorsed the Kosovo deal but did not give their negotiator a mandate to open talks with other EU institutions.

The process is left in limbo after Kosovo failed to solve a border dispute with Montenegro, which was one of the conditions for its waiver. The parliament also wants the country to more on the fight against organised crime.

Turkey was promised a fast-tracked visa process under the EU-Turkey migrant deal. But Ankara's reluctance to change its anti-terrorism legislation, which is one of the EU criteria, has obscured the prospect of the deal happening before October, which was the target date.

Turkey sends EU mixed message on migration

Turkey's EU minister said in Bratislava his country will continue to respect the migration deal, but would not do more until it gets visa-free EU travel.

Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions'

The Council of Europe's special representative on migration and refugees released a report that says minors in Europe are enduring "abysmal conditions".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  2. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  3. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  5. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  6. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  7. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  9. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  10. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  11. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change