The European Parliament voted on February 27 2014 to approve abolishing visa requirements for citizens of Moldova who have biometric passports.
The move still requires approval by the European Council.
European Parliament approval of the change is the latest in a series of steps towards an eased visa system for Moldovans.
A visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Moldova came into effect on January 1 2008 and an upgraded agreement followed on July 1 2013. Moldova removed visa obligations for EU citizens on January 1 2007.
The EU-Moldova visa facilitation agreement set a lower visa fee (35 euro instead of 60 euro) for all Moldovan visa applicants, and waived fees for broad categories of citizens, including children, pensioners, students, people visiting family members living in the EU, people in need of medical treatment, economic operators working with EU companies, participants in cultural exchanges, and journalists.
The visa facilitation agreement also simplified and accelerated procedures and provided for easier access to multiple-entry visas of longer duration.
The EU-Republic of Moldova Visa Liberalisation Dialogue was launched on June 15 2010 and the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP) was presented to the Moldovan authorities in January 2011.
In its latest report on the implementation of the VLAP, the European Commission said that Moldova had met all the benchmarks needed
Following the February 27 vote in the European Parliament, the European Council will need to adopt the proposal. Once into force (20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal), the Schengen area visa waiver for short stays will apply to Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. T
The upgraded Visa Facilitation Agreement will continue to apply to the holders of non-biometric travel documents.
European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “I am very pleased that Moldovan citizens with a biometric passport will soon be able to travel to the Schengen area for short stays without a visa.
“The Moldovan authorities have worked hard towards achieving this important goal and their efforts have paid off. This is indeed good news and a tangible step towards closer association and economic integration with the EU,” she said.
“It is also a clear example of our commitment to deliver on engagements with third countries wishing to work with us and increase people to people contacts and undertake the necessary reforms making visa free travel possible,” Malmström said.
(Photo of Chisinau City Gate: Mirek237)