The 29th of october the Commission adopted its second progress report on the implementation by Georgia of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP).
It concludes that Georgia meets the first-phase requirements of the visa dialogue. The second phase, where the Commission will be checking the implementation of all these benchmarks, can therefore be launched.
«I am pleased with the results of our assessment and would like to congratulate the Georgian authorities for their efforts. They have shown remarkable commitment by putting in place the required legislative changes. This is a significant achievement, an important step in the process that will bring Georgia closer to its goal of visa free regime with the EU», said Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström.
Since the last Commission report issued in November 2013 (IP/13/1085), Georgia has adopted laws in the fields of document security, asylum, anti-corruption andmoney-laundering, as well as other measures in order to address the identified gaps. Important changes made to the legal framework for the protection of personal data during the summer 2014 and the adoption and entry into force of an Anti-Discrimination Law in spring 2014 are also testimony to Georgia’s commitment to the Visa Liberalisation Dialogue. The Georgian authorities will be expected to continue working on these areas and the implementation of the new provisions will be further monitored as part of the second-phase benchmarks.
The Commission stands ready to provide assistance on the implementation of the legislative, policy and institutional framework.
The enhanced mobility of citizens in a secure and well-managed environment is also one of the core objectives of the Eastern Partnership. To this end, the EU carries out Visa Liberalisation Dialogues with interested partner countries.
The main tool of the dialogue is the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan which is tailor-made for each partner country and structured around four blocks concerning i) document security, including biometrics; ii) integrated border management, migration management, asylum; iii) public order and security; and iv) external relations and fundamental rights.
The Action plan contains two tiers of benchmarks: first phase benchmarks concerning the overall policy framework (legislation and institutions), which are to pave the way for the second phase benchmarks relating to effective and sustainable implementation of the relevant measures.
The EU-Georgia Visa Liberalisation Dialogue was launched on 4 June 2012 (IP/12/561) and the VLAP was presented to the Georgian authorities on 25 February 2013.
Today’s report is the second of its kind.
In addition, as a first step towards the long term goal of visa-free travel, Georgian citizens already enjoy the benefits of a visa facilitation agreement with the EU since March 2011.
The visa facilitation agreement sets a lower visa fee for all Georgian citizens and waives fees for broad categories of visa applicants such as children, pensioners, students, people visiting family members living in the EU, people in need of medical treatment, economic operators working with EU companies, sportsmen and women, participants in cultural exchanges, or journalists.
The visa facilitation agreement also accelerates procedures for assessing visa applications and sets the obligation of issuing multiple-entry visas with long period of validity for certain categories of frequent travellers.