TBILISI, DFWatch–The EU Commission is expected to announce its proposal for visa-free travel for Georgians today at a press conference in Brussels.
The press conference is scheduled for today at 20:30 Tbilisi time. There is a three hour difference between Brussels and the Georgian capital.
A press statement put out by the Commission says the press point will be about the visa liberalization dialogue with Georgia, and be held by Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship.
The Commission is expected to address the European Union’s two legislative bodies, the Council and the Parliament, about the visa liberalization process with Georgia.
On December 15, the Commission concluded that Georgia has fulfilled the action plan for visa liberalization and gave a positive recommendation.
“In its fourth and final progress report 4 , adopted on 18 December 2015, the Commission considered that Georgia had made the necessary progress and had undertaken all the required reforms to ensure the effective and sustainable achievement of the remaining benchmarks. Based on this assessment, and given the outcome of the continuous monitoring and reporting that had been carried out since the launch of the EU-Georgia Visa Liberalisation Dialogue, the Commission confirmed that Georgia had met all the benchmarks set for each of the four blocks of the VLAP’s second phase and that it would present, in early 2016, a legislative proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001, transferring Georgia to the list of visa-free countries (Annex II).”
After the Commission has initiated the draft amendment, it will have to be approved by the two legislative bodies the EU Council and the EU Parliament.
It took six months for Moldovans to achieve visa-free travel after the positive report by the Commission. If Georgia’s ratification process follows along the same lines, it will take four or five months until the amendment is published in the EU’s legislative herald. 20 days after that, Georgian citizens with biometric passports will be able to enter and stay for up to 90 days in the Schengen zone.
But in the current political climate some larger member states worry that visa liberalization now might increase the flow of migrants into the EU.
“We are waiting and we are aware that this evening the proposal about visa liberalization will be officially introduced. Sometimes discussions drag out, but I don’t have more information than this,” Zviad Kvachantiradze, a member of parliament from the parliamentary majority said.