EU Commission Officially Proposes Suspension of Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia

The European Union’s Commission has officially proposed the full suspension of the Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia as a part of the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation due to the latter’s military invasion of Ukraine.

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The proposal was presented on Tuesday, September 6, and it is now for the Council to examine and adopt the proposal. Once that happens, Russian authorities will be warned about the suspension of the agreement 48 hours before that happens.

Announcing the proposal, the EU Commission has said that a country like Russia, waging a war of aggression, should not qualify for visa facilitation as long as it continues conducting its destructive foreign policy and military aggression toward Ukraine.

According to the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, Russia’s violation of international law with its illegal military actions and atrocities breach the fundamental principles on which the Visa Facilitation Agreement was concluded.

Today’s proposal shows a strong and united EU response. We will soon follow up with additional guidelines to ensure enhanced scrutiny on visa applications and border crossings by Russian citizens, without cutting ourselves from Russian dissidents and civil society,” she said.

The suspension of the agreement, which was reached in 2007, means that Russian citizens will no longer enjoy privileges when applying for a Schengen visa to Europe, as lower visa fees and fewer requirements. Once the agreement comes into force, the following are set to happen:

  • visa fee will increase from €35 to €80 for all applicants
  • application processing time will increase from ten to 15 days to a maximum of 45 days in individual cases
  • it will become more difficult to obtain a multiple-entry visa
  • applicants will be required to present more documents

Commenting on the move, the EU Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, noted that as long as Russia’s military aggression toward Ukraine lasts, Russian citizens cannot enjoy the benefits of the visa facilitation agreement.

The EU’s visa policy is a mark of trust – a trust that Russia has completely undermined with its unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine… Once again, the EU is showing its unwavering unity in its response to Russia’s military aggression,” he said.

The proposal follows an agreement of the EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs during an informal meeting that took place on August 31 in Prague, where was also discussed the complete ban on Russian tourists, but no such decision was taken. Instead, the Ministers agreed to suspend the Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia as the first step in this direction.

According to the EU Commission, as of September 1, 2022, there were around 963,000 Russians holding valid Schengen visas.

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