TBILISI, DFWatch–The EU Commission announced Friday that Georgia has fulfilled a stepwise plan toward visa liberalization.
This could mean that as early as in mid 2016, Georgian citizens will be able to travel without a visa to countries in the Schengen area, which apart from 22 EU member states includes Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The report says Georgia has fulfilled all the benchmarks required by the action plan for visa liberalization.
“The Commission considers that since then Georgia has made the necessary progress and undertaken all the required reforms to ensure effective and sustainable achievement of the remaining benchmarks,” the report reads.
“The legislative and policy framework, the institutional and organizational principles, and the implementation of procedures throughout the four blocks comply with European and international standards.”
According to the report, the Commission will present a legislative proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 in early 2016, which requires visas for citizens of certain third countries, including Georgia, to enter the EU.
In order for Georgia to achieve visa free travel with the EU, the EU parliament and each of the 28 member states will have to decide together with the EU Council.
Earlier on Friday, before the report was published, Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili said he already knew the report would be positive and he congratulated cabinet members for the job they have done.
Negotiations about visa liberalization began in June, 2012. The EU set out an action plan for Georgia’s visa liberalization process in February, 2013.
It took six months for Moldovans to achieve visa free travel after the positive report of the Commission, but in the current political climate some larger member states, particularly Germany, are afraid that visa liberalization will increase the flow of migrants into the EU.