EU foreign ministers concur to halt the Russia visa waiver program. (business)
The measure will reduce the number of Russian people visiting the bloc, although it does not completely outlaw the use of tourist visas.
The EU has decided to suspend a visa travel agreement with Moscow in order to reduce the number of Russian nationals entering the union for vacation and shopping, falling short of the full tourist visa ban sought by several Central and Eastern European countries.
The EU’s 27 foreign ministers agreed in Prague to suspend the 2007 visa facilitation deal with Russia, which makes it relatively simple to get travel papers.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, stated that there has been a “significant surge in border crossings” from Russia into the EU since mid-July, describing it as a “security danger for these neighboring nations.”
While the EU had already terminated the visa facilitation deal for officials and business owners following Russia’s invasion on Ukraine in February, ordinary Russians may still visit the EU for vacation or other purposes.
“We’ve seen numerous Russians traveling for pleasure and shopping as if there was no fighting in Ukraine,” said Borrell. “Member states believed that we were not doing business as usual.” It’s not going to be business as usual.”
The informal agreement reached on Wednesday has yet to be translated into EU legislation, and it is unclear when the suspension would take effect. According to Borrell, getting a visa from an EU member state would become more difficult and time-consuming for Russians, and the quantity of new travel papers would be decreased “significantly.”
The European Commission has been charged with providing advise on the stock of 12 million existing Russian visas. Jan Lipavsk, the Czech foreign minister, said there was no easy cure. “There are numerous paths forward, and we can’t respond right immediately,” he stated, without going into specifics.
After France and Germany pushed against a blanket ban, the common policy will allow EU member states to continue issuing visas to Russians.
Tens of thousands of Russians fled their homeland following the invasion, while others returned when faced with the realities of migration in the face of financial restrictions and strained family relationships.
If there is no EU-wide accord, certain eastern EU nations have stated that they will seek a regional visa ban.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, had also pressed for a firm stance, telling Reuters that a visa restriction was “an reasonable response to Russia’s murderous campaign of aggression in the heart of Europe, supported by an overwhelming majority of Russian population.”
EU ministers resolved that passports issued by Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine would not be recognized.
According to the border agency Frontex, approximately 1 million Russians have entered the EU through land border crossing sites since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The majority entered with visas, residency permits, or dual nationality from Finland and Estonia. They are believed to have taken alternate routes following the closure of European skies to practically all Russian flights as part of EU sanctions.