Georgian citizens will be able to get EU entry visas more easily after a new visa agreement between the EU and Georgia was approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday. MEPs also backed an agreement with Tbilisi on the readmission of irregular immigrants.
The visa accord with Georgia will simplify the documents required for Georgian nationals who want a short-term visa for the EU (for stays of no more than 90 days per period of 180 days). A decision on whether to issue a visa will have to be taken within 10 days of the application's being lodged. The fee will be €35.
Some people will not be required to pay a visa fee, for example students, journalists, pensioners, children below the age of 12, disabled people, close relatives of Georgian citizens legally residing in a EU Member State and civil society leaders. For certain groups, such as businesspeople, students or journalists, the documentation needed to support a visa application will be simplified.
Returning irregular immigrants
Parliament also approved an agreement on the readmission of irregular immigrants. Georgia and the EU will have to take back any of their nationals who are in an irregular situation on their territories. Nationals of third countries and stateless persons will also have to be taken back if it is proved that the person holds a visa for the signatory state or has resided or transited through that country.
MEPs gave their backing to both agreements on the basis of two reports by Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE, FR), which were approved by show of hands.
In a debate held on Monday evening, Ms Griesbeck said "these agreements are interesting in regional terms because they support EU efforts to strengthen co-operation with other countries in the Southern Caucasian region". She added that the agreements represent a way of "encouraging Georgia to implement all the necessary reforms (...) in liberty, security and justice and also to combat clandestine migration".
The two agreements now need to be formally approved by the Council. Both will enter into force at the same time, two months after notification by both parties that the ratification process is complete.