By Kamila Aliyeva
The EU Council on February 27 adopted a regulation on visa liberalization for Georgians travelling to the EU for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.
The Council and the European Parliament now need to sign the adopted regulation. The text will then be published in the EU Official Journal and will enter into force 20 days later, at the same time as the new visa waiver suspension mechanism, the Council reported.
The regulation formally amends regulation 539/2001, moving Georgia from Annex I (countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the Schengen area) to Annex II (visa free countries). Georgian citizens with a biometric passport travelling to the EU for up to 90 days for business, tourist or family purposes will no longer need a visa. These measures will not apply to Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The signing ceremony of the agreement on visa-free regime between Georgia and the European Union countries is expected to be held in Brussels on March 1, 2017.
On March 9, 2016, the European Commission submitted to the European Parliament and the Council a legislative proposal on visa liberalization for Georgia. In late 2016, the EU approved the completion of the legislative process of providing the citizens of Georgia with the visa-free regime with the EU member states.
The prospect of easier travel to Europe has been used by the pro-Western government in Tbilisi to win popular backing for EU-sponsored reforms.
Negotiations on visa liberalization for Georgia began back in 2008 as part of the Eastern Partnership Program. Georgia entered the practical phase of those talks in 2012 as it prepared for associate EU membership. Georgia abolished visa requirements for EU citizens back in 2006.
Kamila Aliyeva is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Kami_Aliyeva
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