The Council of the European Union has approved the decision to sign an agreement with Belarus on the facilitation of the issuance of visas. The decision is published in the EU Official Journal.
“The signing on behalf of the Union of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Belarus on the facilitation of the issuance of visas is hereby authorised. This Decision shall enter into force on the day of its adoption,” excerpts from the document read.
Among the conditions named are the security and integrity of Belarus’ system of issuance of biometric diplomatic passports and their technical specifications. The Council shall assess the system and decide on the conclusion of the Agreement.
Besides, the President of the Council was “authorised to designate the person(s) empowered to sign the Agreement on behalf of the Union.” The EU Council approving the decision to sign the document was the penultimate stage – the parties are now expected to sign the agreement.
What are the benefits?
Recall that the EU adopted the amendments to the visa code that will take effect on 2 February 2020 increasing the Schengen visa fees to €80.
The European Commission submitted the signing of an agreement on visa facilitation with Belarus. The document had to be approved by the European Parliament and the European Council.
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And after that, the EU Council must make a decision by qualified majority. Only after all domestic procedures are completed, Minsk and Brussels will sign the document.
Negotiations between the EU and Belarus on visa facilitation have been going on for over a year. Once the agreement is signed the visa to Schengen area states for Belarusians will cost €35.
Even if the new EU visa rules come into force before the agreement is signed, the cost of the Schengen visa for Belarusians will decrease from €80 to €35 after its signing.