European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) approved on December 8 with 37 votes to 9 new rules for rapid activation of the suspension mechanism that was agreed by the European Parliament, the EU Council and European Commission a day earlier and that will pave the way for granting visa-free regime to Georgia and Ukraine.
Parliament’s rapporteur for the proposal, Agustín Díaz de Mera, noted that the deal “will facilitate the immediate consideration of the two visa liberalization proposals for Georgia and Ukraine.”
“This agreement is balanced, and is extremely important for both the effectiveness and credibility of the union’s visa liberalisation policy. The current suspension mechanism is not adequate and will now be improved. At the same time, the fact that we have reached an agreement should open the door to further progress on visa liberalisation talks with other countries that meet all the necessary requirements,” Robert Kaliňák, Minister for the Interior of Slovakia and President of the Council, said.
The European Parliament said in a press release that the deal, which was also confirmed on December 7 by the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), on behalf of the Council, will need to be endorsed by Parliament probably next week.
Voting in the European Parliament is the last step for making final decision on Georgia’s visa liberalisation that was hampered due to lack of agreement on the suspension mechanism.
Before putting Georgia’s issue on the agenda of the European Parliament’s plenary session, the EU Council, European Parliament and European Commission have to agree on the final text of amendments to relevant regulations. MEP Mariya Gabriel wrote on her Twitter that trilogues for visa liberalisation will start next week.
MEP Kati Piri wrote on her Twitter on December 7: “Finally agreement on suspension mechanism, so we can vote next week for visa free travel for Georgians and Ukrainians.”
The EU Commission and member states will be able to re-impose visa requirements faster and more easily under new rules agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on Wednesday.
According to the new rules, visa requirements may be reintroduced for a non-EU country in case of a substantial increase in the number of nationals of that country refused entry or irregularly staying in the EU territory; a substantial increase in unfounded asylum applications, or lack of cooperation on readmissions (returns of migrants).
Visas could also be reintroduced in the event of threats to public policy or internal security related to nationals of the third country concerned.
Under the procedures, both member states and the European Commission will be able to trigger the suspension mechanism. The latter will be in charge of monitoring the situation in visa-exempt countries. Following a notification by a member state (or a request by a simple majority of member states), or based on its own report, the Commission will have one month in which to decide to suspend the visa waiver for nine months. During the suspension period, the Commission should try, together with the country concerned, to find solutions to the circumstances that led to the suspension.