“I very warmly welcome today’s recommendation by the European Commission to make a significant step in opening the doors of the European Union to the Georgian people” said Gunnar Hökmark, MEP and Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group responsible for the Eastern Partnership.
“Facilitating travel into and around the EU is crucial for people to people contacts and conducive to good relations between the EU and Georgia”, said Hökmark commenting on today’s proposal of the European Commission to conclude visa facilitation and re-admission agreements with Georgia.
Negotiations with Georgia started in 2008 and were conducted in two directions: one was to facilitate short-stay travel of Georgian citizens and the other to jointly ensure the return of those who illegally stay in the EU.
A two-track approach is in place: “We have ensured that people will have more of the freedom to travel and exchange experiences by simplifying financial and administrative visa rules, but we will also put in place the tools to tackle illegal immigration together.” Hökmark hailed this move as an important step in building mutual relations and bringing Georgia closer to Europe.
The visa facilitation agreement foresees the simplification of rules for submitting visa applications, allowing certain categories of applicants such as students or businesspeople to receive visas with a longer period of validity, and the reduction of visa fees. New rules will also help family members be in contact more easily if one of them resides in the EU.
”The EPP Group will make sure that the European Parliament does its utmost in order for the two agreements to take effect as soon as possible.” concluded Gunnar Hökmark.