EU Parliament approves Suspension Mechanism:
Green light for Georgia’s visa waiver

The Suspension Mechanism rules were approved by 485 votes at today’s plenary session., 15 Dec 2016 - 17:19, Tbilisi,Georgia

Today European Parliament officially approved the rules of the Suspension Mechanism at its plenary session - the last thing standing in Georgia's way for visa liberalisation to the European Union (EU).

The suspension mechanism was described as the final major precognition for Georgia and Ukraine being granted visa free travel to the EU's Schengen Zone.

verbal agreement over the suspension mechanism, which clarifies situations when a country may be deprived of its visa liberalisation in the EU, was reached on December 7 by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

The suspension mechanism rules were approved by 485 votes at today’s session, 132 lawmakers voted against while 21 refrained from revealing their position.

Under the new rules, in certain situations the visa waiver deals of third countries with the EU may be suspended, in which case their citizens would need to apply for a visa to enter the EU. 

The suspension mechanism relates to one or more of the following cases:

  • A substantial increase in the number of nationals of that country are refused entry to or stay irregularly in EU territory,
  • A substantial increase in unfounded asylum applications,
  • A decrease in cooperation on readmissions (returns of migrants), or
  • An increase in risks or imminent threats to public policy or internal security related to nationals of the third country concerned.

European Parliamentarian Andrejs Mamikins said Georgians would be able to travel visa free in the EU from the end of April 2017. Photo by Evija Trifanova/LETA.

 The European Parliament´s rapporteur for the suspension mechanism proposal, Agustín Díaz de Mera, said:

We have succeeded in creating a more flexible and operational tool while ensuring respect for human rights and a key role for the European Parliament. I am confident that following the approval of the suspension mechanism, the Council will cooperate fully to ensure that the proposals to grant visa waivers to Georgia and Ukraine are processed smoothly, given that both countries fulfilled the requested criteria some time ago.”

What happens next?

The new regulations must be formally approved by the Council of Europe. The rule will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal.

The visa suspension mechanism will not apply to the UK or Ireland.

European Parliamentarian Andrejs Mamikins said yesterday that after meeting all necessary procedures Georgian citizens would be able to travel to and within the Schengen Zone without a visa from the end of April 2017.

Click here to see what procedures remain.

Meanwhile European Parliamentarian Mariya Gabriel, who is a rapporteur of Georgia’s visa liberalistaion, said she would do her best to advance Georgia's visa liberalisation process.