Today, the EU-Belarus visa facilitation and readmission agreements enter into force. These agreements represent an important step in strengthening the EU's engagement with the Belarusian people and civil society. They will pave the way for improved mobility of citizens facilitating Travel to the EU from Belarus, and contributing to create closer links in the Belarus and EU relations.
The Visa Facilitation Agreement makes it easier for Belarusian citizens to obtain short-term visas to come to the European Union, with the visa fee generally reduced to €35 and waived for certain categories of travellers. In addition, the service fee is now limited and the deadline for consulates to take a decision on a visa application is shortened. Several categories of travellers, including journalists, students and members of official delegations, can receive multiple-entry visas with increasingly longer validity (up to 5 years), while having to submit less supporting documents to prove their purpose of travel. Belarus has already unilaterally introduced measures to facilitate short-term visa-free travel for EU citizens arriving in Minsk.
The main objective of the Readmission Agreement is to establish procedures for the safe and orderly return of persons who are irregularly present in the EU or Belarus, in full respect of their rights under international law, in particular the principle of non-refoulement.
In the agreements, the Parties acknowledge the importance of the obligations and responsibilities, including respect for human rights and democratic principles, stemming from the relevant international instruments applicable to them.