Moldovan citizens will soon be able to travel to the EU's border-free Schengen area without a visa, under a draft law approved by Parliament on Thursday and already informally agreed with the Council. Moldova is the first Eastern Partnership country to meet all the requirements for visa-free travel laid down in the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan.
The 2001 visa regulation lists non-EU countries whose nationals need a visa to travel to the Schengen area (the “negative list”) and those whose nationals do not need a visa for this purpose (the “positive list”).
This update transfers Moldova from the negative to the positive list. Moldovans who have biometric passports (with a chip storing the holder's facial image and fingerprints) would be able to travel to the Schengen area for 90 days within a 180-day period.
"Today is a very significant day not only for the EU's visa policy as such, but particularly for the Republic of Moldova. I am very pleased that Parliament has passed by such an overwhelming majority the decision to abolish visas for the citizens of the Republic of Moldova," said the rapporteur, Tanja Fajon (S&D, SL).
"The visa-free regime is one of the most concrete elements of relations with the EU and one of the most tangible measures, particularly important for the people, especially young people. Moldova is starting a new chapter. The government should continue with its European journey and I warmly welcome future efforts to be made in this regard," she added.
Following Parliament's approval, the Council is expected to formally endorse the amended regulation by April at the latest,, subject to legal and verification of the texts in all languages. "The visa-free regime for Moldovan citizens should then be applicable before summer," said Ms Fajon.
Moldovan citizens already benefit from a visa-facilitation agreement with the EU in force since January 2008 (an upgraded agreement took effect in July 2013). According to the Commission, 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). Also, many of them already hold a Romanian passport.
Moldova lifted the visa requirement for EU citizens on 1 January 2007.
Future of the EU visa policy
Parliament also adopted a resolution on the future of the EU visa policy, welcoming the recent exemptions from the visa requirement and making recommendations for the application of these rules and on future changes (link below).
Procedure: Co-decision, 1st reading agreement