The European Council and European Parliament formally added Moldova to the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirement on April 3, making it possible for Moldovans holding a biometric passport to travel without visas in the Schengen area starting April 28.
The amendment to Regulation 539/2001 was signed by European Parliament president Martin Schulz and Greek deputy foreign minister Dimitris Kourkoulas, and marks the final step in the visa liberalisation procedure.
Moldovan nationals who do not hold a biometric passport will still be able to apply for a visa under the visa facilitation agreement. Last year, the EU upgraded the agreement in place since 2008, lowering the visa application fee (or outright waiving fees for several broad categories of people) and simplified application procedures.
European home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmström said that the formal addition of Moldova to the list of countries whose national do not require visas marked “the beginning of a new chapter in our relations”.
“This shows that the efforts by the Moldovan authorities have paid off and that the EU is committed to deliver on engagements with third countries wishing to work with us. The possibility to visa-free travel to the Schengen area for short stays will further facilitate people-to-people contacts and strengthen business, social and cultural ties between the European Union and Moldova,” Malmström said.
Moldova’s current pro-Western government made closer ties with the EU its priority, implementing several reforms to meet the benchmarks of the visa liberalisation action plan, presented by the EU in January 2011.
The country has also initialled an association agreement with the EU, including a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement, at the EU Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November 2013. The agreement is due to be signed by the end of the year, but authorities in Chisinau remain optimistic this could happen as early as the summer.
(Photo of Chisinau City Gate: Mirek237)