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EU Council backs Georgia’s visa waiver

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, December 22
Yesterday, the EU Council Committee of Permanent Representatives of the Governments of Member States to the EU (Coreper) approved the amendments to the text of Georgia’s visa liberalisation agreed and adopted by the EU Commission, EU Parliament and Council earlier this month.

This support means that only a few steps remain before Georgia gains visa-free travel in the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone.

The EU Council stressed its approval for visa-free travel for EU citizens when travelling to the territory of Georgia and for citizens of this country when travelling to the EU, for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.

"The Council has demonstrated its strong commitment to visa-free travel for Georgian citizens, taking into account Georgia's hard work. The Presidency believes that the path of credible reforms is the right one and should be encouraged,” EU Council stated.

“It was the recent upgrade of the suspension mechanism that allowed us to inject a new momentum into talks on visa liberalisation with countries fulfilling all criteria. At the same time, this upgrade will help ensure that those criteria will continue to be met," the statement added.

Since Georgia’s visa liberalisation text and the issue has been agreed within the Council, Georgia’s visa liberalisation deal is now allowed to be passed to the European Parliament, where the document will be first discussed by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE).

“LIBE will vote on the political agreement achieved between the European Parliament and the European Council on visa liberalization for Georgia on January 12,” the Committee’s Twitter announced.

If Georgia’s visa liberalisation is also approved by LIBE this will be followed by a vote at the European Parliament’s plenary session, after which the amended regulations will be formally approved by the EU Council at the Ministerial level.

Upon the signing of the legislative amendment by the President of the European Parliament and a representative of the country holding the EU presidency, the regulations will be published in the official journal of the EU.

Visa -free travel will be granted to Georgia upon entry into force of the amended suspension mechanism regulation.

EU Parliamentarians have stated the whole process for Georgia will be completed by the end of April 2017.