Procedure : 2016/0075(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0260/2016

Texts tabled :

A8-0260/2016

Debates :

PV 02/02/2017 - 3
CRE 02/02/2017 - 3

Votes :

PV 02/02/2017 - 7.5

Texts adopted :


REPORT     ***I
PDF 472kWORD 60k
9 September 2016
PE 584.100v02-00 A8-0260/2016

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Georgia)

(COM(2016)0142 – C8-0113/2016 – 2016/0075(COD))

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Rapporteur: Mariya Gabriel

AMENDMENTS
DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
 PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Georgia)

(COM(2016)0142 – C8-0113/2016 – 2016/0075(COD))

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0142),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 77(2)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0113/2016),

–  having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Protocol No 1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on the role of national Parliaments in the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0260/2016),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading, taking over the Commission proposal;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The proposal of the European Commission aims to amend Regulation No 539/2001 and to transfer Georgia to Annex II, which establishes the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from the requirement to obtain visas in order to cross the external borders of the Member States. The legal basis for the proposal is point (a) of Article 77(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). 

The conclusion of a visa waiver agreement with the EU is not considered as precondition for the implementation of the visa exemption for Georgian citizens since Georgia has already exempted all EU citizens from the visa requirement for stays of 90 days (within a 180-day period).

Since the launch of the Visa Liberalisation Dialogue between EU and Georgia in June 2012, the Commission issued four progress reports on Georgia’s implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). The last progress report of the Commission, adopted on 18 December 2015, concluded that Georgia had made the necessary progress and had fulfilled all the benchmarks set in the VLAP. The rapporteur welcomes as very positive the fact, that Georgian authorities proposed new legislative initiatives and further continued undertaken reforms in the second half of 2015 in areas where sufficient progress had been already achieved.

Georgia is a strategic partner for the EU in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy and in particular of the Eastern Partnership. The Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia signed in 2014 has brought relations to a new level by enhancing the cooperation in wide range of fields. The Association Agreement constitutes an integral part of the EU policy of a sequenced engagement with Georgia and its commitment to a close relationship that encompasses political association and economic integration. 

The introduction of the visa free regime is of significant importance for Georgian citizens who will benefit greatly from it. The visa liberalisation will contribute to the deepening of people-to-people contacts. The visa waiver for Georgian citizens travelling to the EU is in this sense an important instrument for stepping up economic and cultural relations and intensifying political dialogue on various issues, including human rights and fundamental freedoms. 

The Association Agreement intensified cooperation also by establishing a free trade area. As consequence trade with the EU has significantly increased and the EU became Georgia’s most important commercial partner, representing 30% of its exports. The free trade regime aims at the gradual economic integration.

As regards the political and institutional situation, Georgia is relatively stable democracy. The Visa Liberalisation Action Plan has proven to be an effective tool for promoting a range of far-reaching and difficult reforms for instance in the justice and home affairs area. The visa facilitation will encourage an open, balanced and constructive exchange on the human rights situation in Georgia in the context of the annual Human Rights Dialogue between the EU and Georgia. The rapporteur draws attention to the need to further step up efforts for sustainable progress in areas such as freedom of the media, independence of judiciary, and fairness of elections and the increased participation of women and national minority representatives.

In terms of mobility, the potential migratory and security challenges have to be considered given the fact that the EU remains an attractive destination for migrants from Georgia. Against the background of the growing trend of visa applications and issued visas, the visa refusal rate has remained almost the same in 2015 (12.9%), with the slight increase by 0,2% compared to 2014 (12.7%). According to the latest statistics by Eurostat in 2014 the number of entry refusals at the external borders of EU 28 decreased by 61% compared to 2013, and by 56.5% in 2015. The rapporteur notes in this regard the importance of the smooth introduction and effective application of the Unified Migration Analytical System, which aims at managing migration in a comprehensive manner by identifying risks, forecasting threats and establishing adequate measures. The information campaign, which has been carried out by the Georgian authorities, aims to shed light on the rights and obligations regarding the visa-free travel and can be used as tool to prevent and tackle irregular migration.

Georgia may also become a key partner in the fight against organised crime, including trafficking in human beings, terrorism and corruption. The rapporteur welcomes the interest demonstrated by the Georgian government to enhance the cooperation with European Police Office (Europol). The conducted negotiations with Europol for conclusion of the Strategic Partnership Agreement with Georgia constitute a positive sign and can significantly contribute to the effective countering of organised crime.

Finally, the Rapporteur believes, that with the adoption of this proposal of the European Commission, the European Parliament confirms the principle that every country after the successful fulfilment of all benchmarks can benefit from the visa liberalisation of the visa regime and recalls that the criteria which lead to this liberalisation must be continuously respected in the future after the entry into force of the decision. Therefore and taking into consideration the significance of visa liberalisation for the citizens of Georgia, the Rapporteur recommends that the members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs support this report.


OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (7.7.2016)

for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Georgia)

(COM(2016)0142 – C8-0113/2016 – 2016/0075(COD))

Rapporteur: Andrejs Mamikins

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The proposal of the European Commission aims to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Georgia) (2016/0075(COD)). Namely, it concerns specifically the introduction of the visa free regime for Georgia, by transferring it from Annex I to Annex II. It will grant visa-free access to Georgian citizens, holders of biometric passports, travelling to the EU, with exception of the UK and Ireland, and including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, for short stays of 90 days within any 180-day period.

The Foreign Affairs Committee has repeatedly supported visa facilitation and visa liberalisation for Eastern Partnership countries, as a way to promote people-to-people contact and enhance relations with the EU. It is considered one of the main pillars of this policy, repeatedly highlighted in summits by heads of EU Member States and a strong message to the citizens of the Eastern Partnership countries.

The Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements between EU and Georgia entered into force on 1 March 2011. The full and effective implementation of these two agreements was one of the conditions for the continuation of the Visa Liberalisation Dialogue. The Dialogue was launched in June 2012. Throughout the process, the Commission issued four progress reports, evaluating the implementation of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). In the last one, adopted on 18 December 2015, the Commission evaluated that the necessary progress has been made and that all the benchmarks set in the VLAP had been achieved.

Visa liberalisation will benefit greatly Georgian citizens, and we value its worth particularly for the potential it will have to enhance people-to-people contact, including for students, academics, teachers, businessmen. The visa liberalisation with Georgia will also increase its attractiveness for the population in the occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia region, this contributing to the peaceful resolution of these conflicts.

The Foreign Affairs Committee has always stressed the importance of rule of law, independence of the judiciary, respect for democratic principles, and in this context will continue to monitor the implementation of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, particularly in these areas and in view of the upcoming parliamentary elections, which will be a litmus test for the consolidation of the democratic institutions in Georgia. The European Parliament should monitor the situation prior to the elections and send a mission to observe the elections, to ensure that the highest international standards are followed and implemented. Any violence is and will be strongly condemned.

Finally, considering the importance of visa liberalisation for the citizens of Georgia, the Committee wishes to see a prompt conclusion of the procedure and entry into force of the amended regulation as soon as possible to enable the citizens to profit from it.

******

The Committee on Foreign Affairs calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament adopts its position at first reading taking over the Commission proposal.

PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Title

Third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Georgia)

References

COM(2016)0142 – C8-0113/2016 – 2016/0075(COD)

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

LIBE

11.4.2016

 

 

 

Opinion by

       Date announced in plenary

AFET

9.6.2016

Rapporteur

       Date appointed

Andrejs Mamikins

24.5.2016

Discussed in committee

13.6.2016

 

 

 

Date adopted

7.7.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

43

5

3

Members present for the final vote

Michèle Alliot-Marie, Petras Auštrevičius, Mario Borghezio, Elmar Brok, Klaus Buchner, James Carver, Lorenzo Cesa, Aymeric Chauprade, Andi Cristea, Arnaud Danjean, Mark Demesmaeker, Georgios Epitideios, Knut Fleckenstein, Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Eugen Freund, Michael Gahler, Iveta Grigule, Richard Howitt, Sandra Kalniete, Tunne Kelam, Afzal Khan, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, Andrey Kovatchev, Eduard Kukan, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Arne Lietz, Barbara Lochbihler, Ulrike Lunacek, Andrejs Mamikins, David McAllister, Francisco José Millán Mon, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Alojz Peterle, Tonino Picula, Kati Piri, Cristian Dan Preda, Jozo Radoš, Sofia Sakorafa, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Jaromír Štětina, László Tőkés, Ivo Vajgl, Hilde Vautmans, Boris Zala

Substitutes present for the final vote

Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Andrzej Grzyb, András Gyürk, Paavo Väyrynen, Janusz Zemke

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Heidi Hautala


PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Title

Third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Georgia)

References

COM(2016)0142 – C8-0113/2016 – 2016/0075(COD)

Date submitted to Parliament

9.3.2016

 

 

 

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

LIBE

11.4.2016

 

 

 

Committees asked for opinions

       Date announced in plenary

AFET

9.6.2016

 

 

 

Rapporteurs

       Date appointed

Mariya Gabriel

25.4.2016

 

 

 

Discussed in committee

21.4.2016

25.4.2016

27.6.2016

4.7.2016

Date adopted

5.9.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

44

5

0

Members present for the final vote

Gerard Batten, Michał Boni, Caterina Chinnici, Ignazio Corrao, Frank Engel, Cornelia Ernst, Tanja Fajon, Mariya Gabriel, Kinga Gál, Ana Gomes, Nathalie Griesbeck, Jussi Halla-aho, Monika Hohlmeier, Filiz Hyusmenova, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Eva Joly, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Timothy Kirkhope, Barbara Kudrycka, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Marju Lauristin, József Nagy, Péter Niedermüller, Judith Sargentini, Birgit Sippel, Branislav Škripek, Traian Ungureanu, Bodil Valero, Udo Voigt, Beatrix von Storch, Josef Weidenholzer, Cecilia Wikström

Substitutes present for the final vote

Andrea Bocskor, Pál Csáky, Daniel Dalton, Angelika Mlinar, Luigi Morgano, Emilian Pavel, Jaromír Štětina, Josep-Maria Terricabras, Daniele Viotti

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Burkhard Balz, Evelyne Gebhardt, Sylvie Goddyn, Andrey Kovatchev, Arne Lietz, Clare Moody, Vladimir Urutchev, Rainer Wieland

Date tabled

9.9.2016


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

44

+

ALDE

Nathalie Griesbeck, Filiz Hyusmenova, Angelika Mlinar, Cecilia Wikström, Sophia in 't Veld

ECR

Daniel Dalton, Jussi Halla-aho, Timothy Kirkhope, Branislav Škripek

GUE/NGL

Cornelia Ernst

PPE

Burkhard Balz, Andrea Bocskor, Michał Boni, Pál Csáky, Frank Engel, Mariya Gabriel, Kinga Gál, Monika Hohlmeier, Andrey Kovatchev, Barbara Kudrycka, József Nagy, Traian Ungureanu, Vladimir Urutchev, Rainer Wieland, Jaromír Štětina

S&D

Caterina Chinnici, Tanja Fajon, Evelyne Gebhardt, Ana Gomes, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Marju Lauristin, Arne Lietz, Clare Moody, Luigi Morgano, Péter Niedermüller, Emilian Pavel, Birgit Sippel, Daniele Viotti, Josef Weidenholzer

VERTS/ALE

Eva Joly, Judith Sargentini, Josep-Maria Terricabras, Bodil Valero

5

-

EFDD

Gerard Batten, Ignazio Corrao, Beatrix von Storch

ENF

Sylvie Goddyn

NI

Udo Voigt

0

0

 

 

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

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