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Parliamentary questions
29 June 2005
Answer given by Mr Frattini on behalf of the Commission

The Commission considers reciprocity to be an essential principle with regard to visas. On 7 July 2004 it accordingly presented a proposal(1) for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001(2) as regards the reciprocity mechanism, which has so far never been used by Member States experiencing a situation of non-reciprocity. The objective of this proposal is to make the mechanism more flexible and thereby increase its effectiveness and credibility. In addition, the proposed mechanism would oblige the Commission to initiate proceedings with third countries exempt from the visa requirement which either maintain or introduce a visa requirement for nationals from one or more Member States.

On 28 April 2005 Parliament delivered a generally positive opinion on the Commission’s proposal, and on 2 June 2005 the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 851/2005(3) which to a large extent corresponds to the Commission’s proposal. When the regulation was adopted, the Council and the Commission issued a joint statement observing that it in no way prevented provisional measures other than the visa requirement, in particular political, economic or commercial measures, from being implemented with respect to a third country which has not observed the principle of reciprocity.

Once the situations of non-reciprocity that are to be notified by the Member States by 24 July 2005 have been published in the Official Journal, the Commission will initiate procedures with the authorities of the third country in question with a view to re-establishing the visa exemption, as provided for by the new Article 1(4)(b) of Regulation (EC) No 539/2001. Within 90 days following publication of those notifications, the Commission must report to the Council, accompanying its report, if necessary, with a proposal for temporary re-establishment of the visa obligation for nationals of the third country(ies) concerned.

This firm commitment by the Commission is in response to the earnest request made to it by the European Council of 4‑5 November 2004 to ‘continue its efforts to ensure as soon as possible that the citizens of all Member States can travel without a short-stay visa to all countries whose nationals can travel to the EU without a visa’.

(1)COM(2004)437 final.
(2)Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 of 15 March 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, OJ L 81, 21.3.2001.
(3)OJ L 141, 4.6.2005.

OJ C 299, 08/12/2006
Last updated: 30 May 2006Legal notice