Today is the final stretch of a long marathon Georgia has been running for years: starting in spring, Georgian citizens will be able to travel visa-free to most countries of the European Union.
The European Parliament (EP) voted in favour of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to the Schengen Area at a plenary session today.
Holders of Georgian biometric passports will now be able to enter the Schengen Area for 90 days within any 180-day period for holiday, business and other purposes except for that of working.
The visa waiver applies to the Schengen Area, which includes 22 EU member states (all except Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) in addition to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
European Parliament and Council negotiators struck a deal on visa-free legislation last December. After the amended regulations will be formally approved by the Council of Ministers, the text will be signed and published in the Official Journal of the EU.
The visa waiver for Georgia will enter into force simultaneously with the visa-suspension mechanism, on which EU institutions have already reached an agreement.
Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili congratulated Georgian’s on his official Twitter page.
The EU-Georgia visa liberalisation dialogue began back in 2012 when the EU Commission ruled that Georgia had satisfactorily fulfilled eligibility requirements.
In March of 2016 the Commission presented a legislative proposal to update visa regulations from 2001, transferring Georgia from the list of countries whose nationals require a visa to access the Schengen area to a list of countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirements.