Visa waiver: EU’s Johannes Hahn hopes suspension mechanism will be ready by Christmas

EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn. Photo from, 28 Nov 2016 - 14:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

European Union (EU) Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn believes the European Parliament and the Council of Europe will agree on a visa waiver suspension mechanism before Christmas, which will open the doors for Georgia to be offered a visa-free travel regime to the Schengen Zone.

What is a suspension mechanism?

A suspension mechanism is a tool that allows each EU member state to request the European Commission to temporarily suspend the visa waiver for nationals of a certain country in specific circumstances including a substantial and sudden increase in the number of irregular migrants, unfounded asylum requests or rejected readmission applications.

The EU said the suspension mechanism was "a must" and Georgia would not be granted its long-awaited visa waiver to the Schengen Zone without it.

What does Hahn say?

Commissioner Hahn spoke about his expectations regarding Georgia’s visa waiver in an interview with Georgia’s Public Broadcaster in Brussels today.

I’m always an optimist. I think we have achieved a lot and I hope that the Parliament and European Council will manage to agree on the suspension mechanism before Christmas,” he said.

Hahn reconfirmed that the suspension mechanism was a necessary condition for a visa waiver.

"After the agreement [on the suspension mechanism], only technical procedures will remain,” he noted.

It’s possible the vote will take place in [European] Parliament in February or March. We will need some time to enforce the decision and translate the documents, which will take about a month or two.”

Tbilisi’s expectations

Addressing Georgia’s Parliament this weekend, the country's Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze said the text for the suspension mechanism document had already been drafted and "now only details needed to be agreed”.

The Georgian side believed the visa waiver would soon become a reality as the country has worked hard to achieve all requirements needed for a visa waiver.