European Union suspends deal on visa facilitation for Russians

An agreement has been reached. European Union foreign ministers decided on Wednesday (31 August) to suspend the visa facilitation agreement with Russia, which will make it more difficult and time-consuming for Russian citizens to obtain visas , said the head of European diplomacy.

Josep Borrell said ministers meeting in Prague agreed that relations with Moscow “could not remain unchanged” due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the deal had to be “totally suspended”. After the outbreak of the conflict, this agreement was partially suspended by the EU for certain Russian citizens linked to the regime (official delegations, holders of diplomatic passports, business leaders, etc.), but the others continued to benefit from it.

A concession for Eastern European countries

Making a concession to eastern EU members who had demanded tougher measures, Josep Borrell said countries bordering Russia “may take measures at national level to restrict entry into the European Union”. However, he clarified that these measures should be in line with the rules of the Schengen area and underlined the importance that members of Russian civil society can continue to travel to the European Union.

Earlier in the day, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania considered that this suspension would score “a necessary first step” but it was necessary “drastically limit the number of visas issued, especially tourist visas, to reduce the flow of Russian citizens to the EU and the Schengen area”.

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