According to top EU diplomat Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign ministers have decided to halt the visa waiver programme with Russia due to Moscow’s conflict in Ukraine.
According to top EU diplomat Josep Borrell, EU foreign ministers have decided to halt a 2007 visa-facilitation agreement with Russia due to that nation’s conflict in Ukraine.
“As a result, the EU member states will grant much fewer new visas. The process will be more challenging, take longer”. After a two-day gathering of foreign ministers in Prague, Borrell made the statement.
Additionally, he claimed that since mid-July, there has been a significant surge in border crossings from Russia into neighbouring countries.
Borrell continued, “This has turned into a security problem for these neighbouring states. Additionally, a lot of Russians have been observed shopping and travelling for pleasure as if there were no ongoing hostilities in Ukraine.”
How will visa process change?
The action is intended to discourage Russian applicants from “visa shopping” in order to enter the European Union more easily by choosing a member state with laxer regulations, according to the EU’s in charge of foreign affairs.
According to recommendations from the European Commission, such a step would lengthen waiting times for approval, complexity, and cost, and bureaucratize the EU visa application process.
Russia’s neighbouring EU nations, including Finland and Estonia, have been pressuring other EU members to crack down on Russian people entering the bloc using Schengen visas provided by a few EU members for weeks. This pressure led to the suspension.
According to diplomats, member nations were divided on whether or not to immediately restrict all travel visas for Russians.
The European Union’s decision to limit travel visas for Russians in response to Moscow’s conflict in Ukraine, according to Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto, is a step “in the right direction” if member states implement it.
How many Russians visit the EU?
Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine six months ago, nearly a million travellers with Russian passports have entered the EU, according to Frontex, the EU border control agency. These travellers landed in Finland (333,000), Estonia (234,000), and Lithuania in large numbers (132,000).
The lack of direct flights between Russia and the bloc since the start of the war can be used to explain the large number of visits made by land to nations bordering the EU. As a result, it is now more challenging to access nations like France and Germany.
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