Easier travel between EU and Russia

Pressmeddelande   •   Feb 15, 2007 15:19 CET

The European Parliament adopted two reports on facilitating the movement of people between Russia and the EU. This is the first serious attempt to put flesh on the agreement reached by the two sides, at the St Petersburg Summit in 2003, to strengthen their relationship by creating a common area of freedom, security and justice.

In the two consultation reports, drafted by Maria da Assunção ESTEVES (EPP-ED, PT) the House supports without amendment an agreement concluded with Russia on the issuance of short-stay visas to foster travel by citizens in both directions, and another agreement on ensuring the readmission of illegal immigrants by Russia. first report was adopted with 453 votes in favour, 56 against and 31 abstentions.

The readmission agreement between the European Community and Russia is the fifth of this kind to have been negotiated and concluded by the EU with a third country. In the case of Russia, the two agreements are linked and should be signed and enter into force at the same time.

In her explanatory statement Maria Esteves argues that any agreement on visas with Russia should be based on genuine conditions of reciprocity but that visas for EU citizens wishing to enter Russia are currently subject to complex compulsory registration and people wishing to travel to Siberia or the Chechen Republic - for example journalists - require additional authorisation and must pay a supplementary fee, whereas a Schengen short-stay visa allows Russians unrestricted travel within the Schengen zone. She also notes the difficulties encountered by journalists, NGOs and members of the clergy in obtaining and renewing visas for Russia in recent years.

Ref.: 20070209IPR02929
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