Russia is responsible for an unjustified and unprovoked military aggression towards Ukraine’s integrity, sovereignty, and independence. It is not only an aggression against Ukraine, it is also a threat also to our security.
Russian citizens should not have easy access to the EU.
Today, the Commission has adopted a proposal to fully suspend the EU’s Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia. There is no basis for trust in the current circumstances. No basis for privileged relations.
This suspension means Russian citizens will no longer enjoy privileged access to the EU, for example for tourist and leisure purposes. They will face a lengthier, more expensive (from 35 EUR to 80 EUR) and more difficult visa application process as well as more restrictions for multiple entry visa.
I am confident that the Council will adopt this proposal swiftly, already this week. So on Monday morning we will have a new common visa regime towards Russia in place.
Today, the Commission has also adopted a legislative proposal on the non-recognition of Russian passports issued in occupied regions of Ukraine.
It is the first time that the Commission makes a proposal on non-recognition of passports, binding for all Member States.
It is a legislative proposal that will be agreed by the co-legislators. I am convinced that they will also work swiftly on this important proposal.
But this is not enough. The Commission will issue Guidelines to ensure that we all act with a common and coordinated approach.
The Guidelines will be adopted by the Commission as soon as the Council has decided on the suspension of the Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia.
With the Guidelines we make sure that we are always open for, and protect those that need to be protected - journalists, dissidents, human right activists, and people that travel for family reasons for example.
On the other hand, Member States should be allowed to refuse a visa application for certain categories of Russian applicants that could be a potential threat to public policy, internal security or international relations of a Member State.
Russia has expelled a considerable number of the Member State consular staff. The Guidelines will help this limited staff to prioritize applications
Given the current security situation, consulates should thoroughly check if applicants could be considered to be a threat to the security of any of the Member States with a greater level of scrutiny. In such cases, the visa should be refused.
Member States should, give lower priority to applicants who do not have an essential reason to travel, in particular where the stated purpose of the journey is tourism.
And let me conclude by saying what is obvious: To be a tourist in the EU is not a fundamental right.
I will later this week, visit Latvia and Finland, including visiting the Finish border with Russia, in order to see and discuss their challenges as neighbours of Russia, and also the visa issues.
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