European Parliament votes to lift visa requirement for Georgians

By bne IntelliNews February 3, 2017

The European Parliament passed a law on February 2 to lift the visa requirement for Georgian citizens travelling to the European Union (EU), the parliamentary press service said. The development has been in the making for more than a year since the European Commission prepared a report recommending that visas be waived for Georgians in December 2015.

The parliament's vote follows the Council's positive vote on the matter back on December 20. The next step is for the Council to approve the parliament's bill - which it is highly likely to do. However, the visa waiver will only come into effect after the European institutions finalise the suspension mechanism for it. Parliamentary approval for a tentative mechanism was given on December 15.

Georgia is one of the most EU-friendly countries in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. The country has been eyeing membership of the bloc since it rejected a pro-Russian orientation during the Rose Revolution of 2003. Its prospects of EU membership are unfavourable at the moment, but Georgia signed an association agreement with Brussels in 2014, which came into force in 2016.

The visa liberalisation scheme will likely incentivise even stronger ties between Georgia and the bloc.

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