25 February 2013
This week in Tbilisi, Georgia, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström handed the Action Plan for Visa Liberalisation over to Georgia's authorities – a further step towards full visa liberalisation and visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to the EU. The action plan sets out the conditions to be met by Georgia in this dialogue.
"I want to congratulate the Georgian authorities for their efforts made so far in pursuing the necessary reforms and making the start of the visa dialogue and the delivery of this Action Plan possible. This is yet another step towards visa-free travel for Georgian citizens and the shared goal of closer integration between the EU and Georgia", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
During her visit, Commissioner Malmström is meeting with Georgia's President, Mikhail Saakashvili, Georgia's Prime Minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as other members of the Georgian government. Malmström will also meet with a number of Georgian civil society organisations working in the areas of migration, human rights and good governance.
The Action Plan for Visa Liberalisation deals with document security, border and migration management, public order and security, and external relations issues. Georgian authorities are encouraged to continue working to pursue reforms in all the areas relevant for the visa liberalisation dialogue, including the fight against corruption and organised crime, data protection, anti-discrimination and protection of minorities, as well as the independence of the justice system. The European Commission will regularly assess the implementation by Georgia of each set of benchmarks.
The European Commission started a dialogue on visa liberalisation with Georgia in June of last year, and the Action Plan is the main instrument for this dialogue. It allows the EU and the Georgian authorities to examine the preconditions for the establishment of visa-free travel for Georgian citizens.
As a first step, Georgia already has a visa facilitation agreement with the EU since March 2011. The agreement sets a lower visa fee for all Georgian citizens, and waives fees for broad categories of visa applicants such as children, pensioners, students and people visiting family members living in the EU.