Georgian citizens will have the right to travel to the EU without a visa under an informal deal struck by Parliament and Council negotiators on Tuesday.
Parliament´s rapporteur, Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG) said: “We are entering the final phase towards visa exemption for Georgian citizens. It was extremely important to reach a deal today, to move forward in parallel with the revision of the suspension mechanism and to be ready for a simultaneous entry into force. I am glad that the Council backed our commitment to deliver as soon as possible. At the end of the day we must keep in mind that this is for Georgian citizens to come closer to the European Union – in terms of mobility as well as in terms of political path".
The deal still needs to be confirmed by member state representatives (Coreper) and endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee and the Parliament as a whole, probably in January.
Member states had linked the proposal to exempt Georgia from visa requirements with the strengthening of the visa suspension mechanism. Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on this mechanism on 7 December, which will be put to a vote in plenary session on Thursday.
At the request of MEPs, the Slovak Presidency promised to write to them by the end of this week confirming that the Council will now do its utmost to speed up the processing of the deal reached on Georgia.
The visa waiver for Georgia will enter into force on the same date as the review of the visa suspension mechanism.
The EU-Georgia visa liberalisation dialogue started in 2012. By the end of 2015, the EU Commission had concluded that the country had fulfilled all the benchmarks. In March 2016, the Commission presented a legislative proposal to update the 2001 visa Regulation, transferring Georgia from the list on non-EU countries whose nationals need a visa to travel to the Schengen area (the “negative list”) to the list of countries whose nationals are exempt from this requirement (the “positive list”).
Once the change is formally approved, Georgians will be able to enter the EU visa-free for 90 days in any 180-day period, provided they hold a biometric passport.
The visa waiver applies to all EU countries except Ireland and the United Kingdom.