On 1 January, the EU and Belarus signed a visa facilitation agreement and a readmission agreement. The EU considers these agreements to be an important step in EU-Belarus relations and pave the way for better mobility of citizens, which contributes to closer ties between the EU and its eastern neighbours. The visa facilitation agreement will make it easier for Belarusian citizens to obtain short-term visas to travel to the European Union. Upon the entry into force of the Visa Facilitation Agreement, the visa fee will be reduced to €35. Read more: vm.ee/en/news/estonia-temporarily-suspends-issuing-schengen-visas as soon as the readmission agreement enters into force, Belarus and the European Union must take back their own citizens, third-country nationals and stateless persons who do not fulfil or no longer fulfil the conditions for legal residence on the territory of the other country. The document provides for a transitional period of two years for the readmission of third-country nationals. The Joint Declaration annexed to the Readmission Agreement obliges the European Union to provide technical and financial assistance to Belarus in this field. The visa facilitation agreement will make it easier and cheaper to obtain a visa for Belarusian citizens travelling to the Schengen area and EU citizens travelling to Belarus. The agreement simplifies the documents that must be submitted by certain categories of citizens as well as the issuance of multiple-entry visas for certain categories of frequent travellers. In addition, the general fee for processing visa applications falls to 35 euros. Holders of diplomatic passports are exempt from the visa requirement. This Agreement applies to short-term travel, defined as a stay not exceeding 90 days in a period of 180 days.
In addition to Belarus, the EU has concluded visa facilitation agreements with Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, North Macedonia, Georgia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. With 24 countries, including Belarus, there are formal readmission agreements or practical return and readmission arrangements. Commissioner Johansson said: “These agreements between the European Union and Belarus are an important step forward in our cooperation. They will improve the mobility of our citizens in a well-managed and safe environment and help to establish closer relations between the European Union and Belarus. On the European side, we will now speed up the ratification procedures so that citizens can feel the benefits as quickly as possible.” Today, the visa facilitation and readmission agreements between the EU and Belarus enter into force. . . .