On December 15, the European Parliament adopted the new rules of the visa suspension mechanism, the enactment of which is directly linked with Georgia’s visa liberalization issue.
The European Parliament said that the draft regulation has to be formally approved by the EU Council.
“It will enter into force twenty days after its publication in the EU Official Journal,” it said.
The EU will enforce the nine-month visa suspension mechanism with the possibility of its further extension based on “relevant and objective data”. Under the new rules, third countries’ visa waiver deals with the EU may be suspended, in which case their citizens would again need a visa to enter the EU, in one or more of the following cases:
• a substantial increase in the number of nationals of that country are refused entry to or stay irregularly in EU territory,
• a substantial increase in unfounded asylum applications,
• a decrease in cooperation on readmissions (returns of migrants), or
• an increase in risks or imminent threats to public policy or internal security related to nationals of the third country concerned.
The new rules were approved on December 15 with 485 votes in favor, 132 against and 21 abstentions.
Parliament´s rapporteur for the proposal, AgustínDíaz de Mera, said “We have succeeded in creating a more flexible and operational tool, while ensuring respect for human rights and a key role for the European Parliament. I am confident that following the approval of the suspension mechanism, the Council will cooperate fully to ensure that the proposals to grant visa waivers to Georgia and Ukraine are processed smoothly, given that both countries fulfilled the requested criteria some time ago.”
The EU Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission agreed at a trilateral meeting on December 13 to move forward with finalizing the visa waiver deal with Georgia in parallel with the revision of the suspension mechanism and enforce the visa free regime simultaneously with the visa suspension mechanism. The trilateral political agreement needs to be confirmed by member state representatives (Coreper) and endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee and the Parliament as a whole, probably in January. This will be followed by the vote at the European Parliament’s plenary session.