Live Updates: Russia’s War in Ukraine

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A Dutch passport control for trucks in the port of Hoek van Holland on January 4, 2021. (Sem van der Wal/ANP/AFP/Getty Images/File)

The European Commission on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to suspend the visa facilitation agreement between the European Union and Russia, which would make it more expensive and difficult for Russians to travel to EU member states.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson announced the proposal at a press conference in Brussels, saying there was “no basis for a special relationship between Russia” and the European Union after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It comes after EU foreign ministers reached a political consensus last week to suspend the visa deal altogether.

“The proposal to suspend the visa facilitation agreement will end all facilities for Russian citizens applying for a short-stay visa in the Schengen area,” a European Commission press release said on Tuesday.

Johansson stressed that the proposal will ensure that “Russian citizens will no longer enjoy privileged access to the EU”.

Russians trying to enter the EU for tourism and leisure purposes will face a “longer” and “more expensive” process, the commissioner said. There will also be more restrictions for multiple-entry visas, Johansson added.

In this context, visa fees will drop from 35 euros ($34.66) to 80 euros ($79.23) while the decision time for consulates will drop from 10 days to 15 days. Visa applicants will also have to submit a longer list of documentary evidence when applying for the visa, according to the press release.

Despite the suspension, the EU will remain “open to certain categories of Russian visa applicants traveling for essential purposes, including family members of EU citizens, journalists, dissidents and representatives of civil society” , according to the press release.

What happens after?: The Commission must now wait for the European Council to consider the proposal to scrap the visa agreement in its entirety, the press release said. If approved by the European Council, the suspension will enter into force on the second day after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The bloc announced in the press release that it is also proposing a “common EU approach to the non-recognition of Russian passports issued in occupied foreign regions, as Russia is currently expanding the practice of issuing ordinary Russian passports to more areas not controlled by the government”. of Ukraine, especially the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

The EU stressed that its visa facilitation agreements “are based on mutual trust and respect for common values ​​between the EU and the country concerned”.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is incompatible with a relationship of trust and goes against the spirit of partnership upon which visa facilitation agreements are based,” the bloc added.


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