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European Commission Proposes Visa-Free Regime for Georgia

TBILISI - The European Commission announced earlier on Tuesday that it has proposed to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament to lift visa requirements for Georgian citizens.

In its previous report, the European Commission recommended transferring Georgia to the list of countries whose citizens can travel visa-free to the 26-member Schengen zone.

The proposal comes after the commission gave a positive assessment in December 2015, confirming that Georgia successfully met all of the required benchmarks under Brussels’ Visa Liberalization Action Plan.

Europe’s Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, emphasized that visa-free travel will further facilitate people-to-people contact and strengthen the business, social and cultural ties between the European Union and Georgia.

“It is an important achievement for the citizens of Georgia. Today's proposal recognizes the efforts of Georgia’s authorities to carry out far-reaching and difficult reforms with a significant impact on the rule of law and the justice system. I am very satisfied with the progress achieved, and I hope that the European Parliament and the Council will adopt our proposal very soon,” Avramopoulos said.

Once the European Parliament and the Council adopt the proposal, Georgian citizens with biometric passports will be able to travel visa-free to the Schengen area for up to 90 days.

The visa-free travel will apply to all EU Member States except for Ireland and the UK, as well as four associated member countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

The exemption only concerns short-stay visas valid for up to 90 days of travel in any 180-day period for business, tourist or family purposes. The visa exemption does not provide for the right to work in the EU.

The EU-Georgia Visa Liberalization Dialogue was launched on 4 June 2012 and the Visa Liberalization Action Plan was presented to Georgia’s authorities on 25 February 2013.

EU citizens have been able to travel visa-free to Georgia for short stays since 1 June 2006.

By Tamar Svanidze

Edited by Nicholas Waller

09 March 2016 22:03