Visas: Council approves negotiating mandate on visa liberalisation for Kuwait and Qatar

(Source: Council of the EU and European Council)

The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) approved the Council’s negotiating mandate on the liberalisation of short-stay visas for Kuwait and Qatar. On the basis of this mandate, the presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament.

The Council confirmed the Commission’s proposal to provide for visa-free travel for the citizens of these two countries when travelling to the EU for a maximum duration of 90 days per 180-day period.

The Council thus took the first step towards visa liberalisation with Kuwait and Qatar, which should apply after the conclusion of bilateral agreements with these countries, in particular to ensure that full reciprocity of this exemption for EU citizens is maintained. The aim of these agreements will also be to clarify responsibilities for the readmission of nationals of each party who are in an irregular situation. The entry into force of the exemption should also take place after the effective entry into operation of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), scheduled for 2023.

In its negotiating mandate, the Council stressed that particular attention should also be paid to regional coherence, notably with a view to strengthening people-to-people contacts and travel between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It therefore calls on the Commission to proceed rapidly to the assessment of the situation of these countries against the benchmarks with a view to exempting the other GCC member states from the visa requirement.

Background

On 27 April 2022, the Commission published a proposal for visa liberalisation for nationals of Kuwait and Qatar.

Once the new visa regime has been agreed with Parliament and formally adopted, it will move the two countries from Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 (countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the Schengen area) to Annex II to the same Regulation (visa-free countries).

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