The Commission proposed today to allow visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. This proposal builds on the successful implementation by the Republic of Moldova of all the benchmarks set in its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan.
“I am very pleased to propose to abolish visa requirements for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. I wish to congratulate the Moldovan authorities for their efforts to implement key reforms and the important achievements they have made. The possibility to travel to the EU without a visa will further facilitate people-to-people contacts and strengthen business, social and cultural ties between the European Union and Moldova. It is my sincere hope that other Eastern partners seeking visa-free travel to the EU will continue to work towards achieving this important goal”, said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
Commissioner Štefan Füle responsible for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy expressed his appreciation for the Moldovan partners for the successful implementation of the reforms that preceded today’s proposal and stated: “I am delighted we are able to make this proposal on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius where we also plan to initial the Association Agreement, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with Moldova. These are significant milestones on Moldova’s way to a closer political association and economic integration with Europe – and ones that will bring tangible benefits for Moldovan citizens.”
The proposal to abolish visa requirements for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council. The Commission would very much welcome an agreement by the co-legislators before the end of the current legislature of the European Parliament.
Background: from visa facilitations to proposal for visa free regime for Moldova
- As a first step towards the long term goal of visa-free travel, Moldovan citizens already enjoyed the benefits of a Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU since 1 January 2008 (an upgraded Visa Facilitation Agreement entered into force on 1 July 2013).
- The visa facilitation agreement set a lower visa fee (€35 instead of €60) for all Moldovan visa applicants, and waived fees for broad categories of citizens such as children, pensioners, students, people visiting family members living in the EU, people in need of medical treatment, economic operators working with EU companies, participants in cultural exchanges, journalists, etc. The visa facilitation agreement also simplified and accelerated procedures and provided for easier access to multiple-entry visas of longer duration.
- The Republic of Moldova lifted the visa obligation on EU citizens on 1 January 2007.
- The EU-Republic of Moldova Visa Liberalisation Dialogue was launched on 15 June 2010 and the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP) was presented to the Moldovan authorities in January 2011 (IP/11/59).
- In its fifth report on the implementation of the VLAP the Commission considered that the Republic of Moldova meets all the benchmarks set in the four blocks of the second phase of the VLAP (IP/13/1085).
- In particular the Republic of Moldova has successfully completed the reform of the Ministry of Interior, continued smooth judicial cooperation in criminal matters with EU Member States and international police cooperation, and put in place a solid framework for deepening the cooperation with Ukraine in the area of border management. The Moldovan authorities have made serious implementation efforts with regard to the Law on Ensuring Equality and the National Human Rights Action Plan, and the strengthening of the Ombudsman’s office.
- Building upon this assessment, taking into account the overall relations between the EU and the Republic of Moldova and in view of the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit of 28-29 November 2013, the Commission therefore proposed to transfer the country to the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirements. This visa waiver would apply to Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport.
- The number of short-stay Schengen visa applications from Moldovan citizens has remained stable over the past three years (oscillating between 50,000 and 55,000). At the same time, the refusal rate for visa applications has decreased sharply from 11.4% in 2010 to 6.5% in 2012.