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Speech during the 9th EU-Moldova PCC meeting

Laima Andrikienė, MEP (EPP-ED, Lithuania)
9th EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee Meeting
EP plenary session

Strasbourg
25 October, 2006

Visa facilitation is a key priority in the EU and Moldova relations. There is currently no visa agreement between the EU and Moldova, which leaves the questions of visa and visa procedures for Moldovans very much up to each EU Member State to decide upon. At the moment, the price for a Schengen visa is 35 euros for Moldovan citizens. Only 6 out of 25 EU member states have embassies in Chisinau (Moldova) and only Germany and France issue Schengen visa for the Moldovan citizens. In cases where these Member States are not considered main destinations, Moldovans have to travel to neighbouring countries (Ukraine, Romania, Hungary) where these other Member States have their consulates.

As regards the consulates located in Romania, Moldovans will need a Romanian visa in order to be able to enter this country to apply for a Schengen visa, once Romania will align its visa policy to Regulation 539/2001 and introduce the visa obligation for Moldovans as of 1 January 2007. Moldova and Romania have just signed a bilateral visa agreement on 20 October on the related practicalities.

Moldova has removed the visa obligation for the citizens of the EU Member States by 1 January 2007.

The Commission is preparing negotiating mandates for an EC-Moldova visa facilitation agreement, with a view to their submission to, and agreement by, the Council before the end of 2006.

Hungary will be establishing a common visa application centre in Chisinau in 2007 as a pilot project. Austria and Slovenia will participate in the project and the Commission has encouraged other EU Member States to participate.

The issue of EU visas for Moldovan citizens is a problem with serious repercussions from a human rights point of view. With most people still facing formidable obstacles when it comes to travel abroad, the issue ranks high on any list of concerns in Moldova and should be of interest to EU Institutions as the current visa procedures affect ordinary citizens in countries that the European Neighbourhood Policy explicitly seeks to engage in closer cooperation. A solution to this problem rests on the opening of negotiations over an EU-Moldova visa facilitation agreement. Despite the fact that the Government of Moldova has signalled its willingness to initiate in 2006 negotiations on visa facilitation in parallel with negotiations on a readmission agreement; there has been no positive response from the EU Institutions.

The European Union's Justice and Home Affairs Council (JAH) held a meeting in Luxembourg on 5 October, during which, among other items, it was presented a report by the European Commission on the possibility to start negotiations with Moldova on simplifying the visa regime and readmission.

As a result of the support of most of the EU member-states, the participants in the meeting adopted a decision under which the JAH positively appreciates the conclusions of the report on the possibility to start negotiations on visa regime for Moldova and readmission. The JAH welcomed the European Commission's proposal to start procedures on the working out a draft mandate for agreements on simplifying the visa regime and readmission with Moldova.

It seems that all preparatory work in the EU is coming to an end and we look forward to the start of negotiations on visa facilitation and in parallel readmission with Moldova.