22nd Oct 2016

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.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity