FT learns of EU readiness to suspend visa agreement with Russia

This idea is going to be supported by the foreign ministers of the EU countries at a meeting next week. If the visa facilitation agreement is suspended, it will be more difficult, longer and more expensive for Russians to obtain Schengen visas 673w” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the countries The EU will support the idea to suspend the visa facilitation agreement with Russia, writes the Financial Times.

Three EU officials involved in the talks on the topic told the newspaper that political support for such a decision would be expressed during a two-day meeting starting in Prague on Tuesday. If the decision to suspend the current agreement is eventually made, Russians applying for visas from countries— EU members, more documents will have to be collected, their processing will take longer, and the cost of filing an application will increase.

“It is inappropriate when Russian tourists walk around our cities, along our shores” ;,— said one of the newspaper's interlocutors.

He stressed that European countries are “in an exceptional situation” that “requires exceptional steps.” “We want to go beyond the visa facilitation suspension,” — the source added, specifying that more serious steps in this direction could be made by the end of the year.

However, there is still no consensus in the EU on what additional measures that will lead to the reduction or suspension of visas for Russian citizens, Brussels can take, as well as what to do with respect to Belarus, writes FT.

The agreement between Russia and the European Community on visa facilitation for citizens of the Russian Federation and the European Union was ratified by Russia in March 2007. It entered into force on June 1 of the same year. It covers the issuance of visas for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. The document does not regulate issues such as refusal to issue a visa, recognition of travel documents, proof of sufficient means of subsistence, refusal to enter the country or expulsion from it.

The agreement also establishes a single fee for issuing visas— €35. It rises to €70 if the visa application is submitted less than three days before the expected date of departure. The parties to the agreement are given 10 calendar days to make a decision on issuing a visa, however, if there is a need for additional study of the application, the period can be extended up to 30 working days. In urgent cases, the time for issuing a visa can be reduced to three days.

Each of the parties to the agreement may suspend its operation in whole or in part “for reasons of protecting national security, public order or public health.” The other party must be notified at least 48 hours in advance. The agreement terminates 90 days after receipt of the relevant written notice from the initiator of the suspension.

After the start of the operation in Ukraine, Russia twice— in April and May— suspended certain clauses of the agreement in response to “unfriendly actions”; EU countries, as well as a number of others, such as Iceland and Liechtenstein. These points concerned the simplified entry of members of official delegations and journalists, the issuance of multiple entry visas for members of governments and parliaments, constitutional and supreme courts, employees of diplomatic missions and consulates, exemption from visa fees for members of official delegations, etc.

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Complete Suspension the operation of a simplified visa regime between the EU and Russia was proposed by the Czech Republic. The country considered it necessary to completely abolish the issuance of short-term visas for Russians, however, faced with the resistance of some countries— EU members, proposed an alternative. Among those who opposed a complete ban were Germany, Austria and a number of southern European countries, wrote Bloomberg.

Brussels, for its part, also pointed out that the complete abolition of extradition visas are not provided for in the visa code of the union, since there are always categories of citizens who must receive visas, & mdash; for example, journalists or those who leave the country for fear of political persecution.

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