Russians to face stricter and longer procedures to enter the EU

From Monday, Russians seeking to enter the EU will have to pay a higher fee, present more documents and face a longer time.

European Union flags flutter outside the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, April 26, 2018.
The EU Council has adopted a decision that fully suspends the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia [File: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

Russians seeking to enter the European Union will face longer and stricter procedures starting from Monday, the EU Council has said, scrapping a 14-year-long deal between Russia and the bloc.

“Today the Council adopted a decision that fully suspends the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia,” read a statement published on Friday. The agreement had been in place since 2007 with the purpose of facilitating visas for up to 90 days.

“A visa facilitation agreement allows privileged access to the EU for citizens of trusted partners with whom we share common values,” it said. “With its unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression, including its indiscriminate attacks against civilians, Russia has broken this trust and trampled on the fundamental values of our international community,” the statement added.

Suspending the deal means that visa application fees will now increase from 35 to 80 euros ($35 to $80), applicants will need to present additional documents and that the issuing process will be longer and more restrictive. The new measure will enter into force on Monday.

The commission is expected to present additional guidelines to make sure the suspension does not affect those travelling to the EU for essential purposes, including journalists, dissidents and civil society representatives.

The 27-country bloc’s decision comes as a compromise following a debate in late August among member states on whether to apply an outright visa ban against Russians. Some countries, such as Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, along with Ukraine, pushed for a harder stance, but Germany and France disagreed.

“We caution against far-reaching restrictions on our visa policy, in order to prevent feeding the Russian narrative and triggering unintended rallying-around the flag effects and/or estranging future generations,” they said in a joint memo.

Source: Al Jazeera