Belarus, EU sign visa facilitation and readmission agreements

The signing of the documents in Brussels / @onttvchannel
The signing of the documents in Brussels / @onttvchannel

On 8 January, Belarus and the European Union signed a visa facilitation agreement and a readmission agreement. At the signing ceremony in Brussels, Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, together with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Croatia as Council Presidency, Davor Božinović, signed for the EU, while Belarus was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uladzimir Makei.

The visa facilitation agreement will make it easier for Belarusian citizens to acquire short-term visas to come to the European Union. Once the visa facilitation agreement enters into force, the visa fee will be reduced to €35. In addition, the service fee will be limited and the deadline for consulates to take a decision on a visa application will be shortened.

Following today's signature, the agreements will be submitted to the European Parliament for consent. The Council will then be able to formally conclude the ratification of both agreements. A ratification procedure is also required on the Belarusian side, through approval from Belarus National Assembly. The agreements could enter into force in June 2020 (on the first day of the second month following conclusion).

The main objective of the EU-Belarus readmission agreement is to establish, on the basis of reciprocity, procedures for the safe and orderly return of persons who reside irregularly in the EU or Belarus, in full respect of their rights under international law. 

Belarus has also been granted a 'transition period' for two years with regard to the citizens of the third country. Brussels has promised to provide financial and technical support to Belarus.

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