Visa-free travel to EU for 19 countries
The EU Council will now enter into negotiations with the European Parliament, with a view to the final adoption of the decision early in 2014.
"Our today's agreement is a significant step towards the future visa-free travel between the European Union and the 19 third countries. The Presidency strongly believe in the benefits of the visa-free travels and is very glad to have achieved the agreement among the Member States," said ambassador Raimundas Karoblis, chair of the Permanent Representatives Committee.
Citizens of Dominica, Grenada, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, United Arab Emirates, Peru and Colombia will be able to travel without visas once the amendments of the regulation is adopted by the EU Council and the European Parliament.
To benefit from the visa-free travels, each of the 19 countries will still have to conclude a bilateral Visa Waiver Agreement with the European Union.
Lithuania has put a major emphasis on the EU visa policy during its Presidency to the Council of the EU in the second half of 2013. The EU-Azerbaijan Visa Facilitation Agreement has been signed at the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit on November 29, the decisions on the conclusion of the EU-Armenia Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements have been adopted, paving the way for their entering into force from January 1, 2014.
The Lithuanian Presidency has also reached an agreement on the negotiating mandate for the European Commission to start the Visa Facilitation talks with Morocco, the first such agreement in the EU's Southern neighbourhood. ■