Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has decided to sign an agreement on visa facilitation with the EU. The news was made public by press secretary of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry Anatoly Glaz at a briefing on Friday, 20 September.
According to Glaz, the agreements provide for “facilitating visa procedures on a mutual basis for a wide category of citizens and reducing fees.”
What is to expect?
“The right of citizens to apply for visas both through visa centers and consular offices will be ensured. The readmission agreement (return of irregular migrants to their countries) will establish a two-year transitional period for third-country nationals,” he said.
Besides, the draft joint declaration to the agreement contains the obligations of the EU to provide Belarus with technical and financial support in its implementation.
“About half a million foreign citizens have benefited from such a visa-free entry regime since its introduction. The vast majority of them are citizens of the European Union,” Glaz added.
What is the process?
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 must be approved by the European Parliament and the European Council.
And after that, the EU Council must make a decision by qualified majority. Only after all domestic procedures are completed, Minsk and Brussels 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.
Explore the topic:
Should the agreement on visa facilitation between Belarus and the EU be signed, the cost of the Schengen visa for Belarusians may drop to €35 (when applying for a visa at the embassy).
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.
In case Belarus and the EU don’t sign the agreement, Belarusians will have pay €80 euros for a visa to visit the EU state members.