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European Commission proposes to lift visa obligations for Georgians

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, March 11
The European Commission has proposed to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament to lift visa requirements for citizens of Georgia by transferring Georgia to the list of countries whose citizens can travel without a visa to the European Union's Schengen Zone.

The proposal comes after the Commission gave a positive assessment last December, confirming that Georgia successfully met all benchmarks under the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP).

The Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: "Today we follow up on our commitment to propose visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to the EU. Visa free travel will further facilitate people-to-people contacts and strengthen business, social and cultural ties between the European Union and Georgia – it is an important achievement for the citizens of Georgia.

“Today’s proposal recognises the efforts of the Georgian 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."

At a special conference later on March 9, Avramopoulos said allegedly that Georgians would be able to travel visa-free to the EU from summer this year.

Once the proposal has been adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, Georgian citizens with biometric passports will no longer require visas when travelling for up to 90 days to the Schengen area.

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

The exemption concerns only 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 the right to work in the EU.

The EU-Georgia Visa Liberalisation Dialogue was launched on 4 June 2012 and the VLAP was presented to the Georgian authorities on 25 February 2013.

Benchmarks were set with a view to adopting a legislative, policy and institutional framework (phase 1) and ensuring its effective and sustainable implementation (phase 2).

The European Commission had adopted four progress reports on Georgia, reflecting how Georgia progressed on its path to visa liberalisation.

The fourth and final progress report was adopted on 18 December 2015.

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