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Taiwanese nationals will no longer need visas to travel to the EU after MEPs voted on Thursday to waive visa requirements for visitors from that country. Citizens of all EU countries can also now travel to Taiwan without a visa, as the Taiwanese authorities this morning scrapped visa requirements for citizens from Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania.

Parliament approved the visa waiver plan by 559 votes to 40 with 13 abstentions. The Council of Ministers must now give its accord. The new arrangements could then take effect by the end of 2010 or early in 2011.

Taiwan does not require visas for nationals of EU Member States who wish to visit that country. Until today, citizens from three EU States (Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania) still needed a visa to travel to Taiwan. However, rapporteur Agustín Diaz de Mera (EPP, ES) announced, before the vote, that the Taiwanese authorities had lifted the visa requirement for those three countries as of today, 11 November. The Taiwanese authorities had undertaken to exempt these countries completely by the end of 2010.

As agreed with the Council, MEPs decided that the exemption from visa requirements would not to apply to holders of passports issued by Taiwan which do not include an identity card number.

According to Mr Diaz de Mera (EPP, ES), "the liberalisation of visas for Taiwan will enable trade ties to develop" and the EU has "already granted this exemption to other countries and entities in the same geographical area and at a similar level of economic development, such as Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, South Korea and Singapore".