19 February 2008
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The Commission is to open negotiations for short stay visa waiver agreements with Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Seychelles.
Reference: IP/08/247 Date: 15/02/2008
Brussels, 15 February 2008
The Commission adopts recommendations to open negotiations for short stay visa waiver agreements with six countries
The Commission made today the first step towards the conclusion of short stay visa waiver agreements between the European Community and six third countries: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Seychelles. The recommendations to authorise the Commission to open negotiations are to be submitted to the Council.
"The Commission intends to open the negotiations on the visa waiver with the six countries as soon as the negotiating directives will be approved by the Council, thus providing for the full implementation of the existing legal framework", stated Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security.
Regulation (EC) 1932/2006 (adopted on 21 December 2006) amended Regulation (EC) 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders of the European Union (negative list), and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (positive list) by - inter alia - transferring six third countries from the negative to the positive list. These countries are Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Seychelles.
However, the new Regulation makes the implementation of the exemptions from the visa requirement for nationals of these countries depending on the entry into force of bilateral visa waiver agreements to be concluded between the European Community and each of the countries in question.
To this end, the Commission prepared the recommendations to be submitted to the Council in order to authorise the Commission to negotiate – on behalf of the European Community – such bilateral visa waiver agreements with each of the six countries concerned.
Nevertheless, the finalisation of these recommendations has been delayed due to the decision of some of the six countries to introduce a special visa regime for the nationals of several Member States on a temporary basis for the period of the Cricket World Cup 2007 taking place in the Caribbean Community.
It is worth recalling that amendments to the positive and negative lists of Regulation (EC) 539/2001 are proposed by the Commission, after an assessment of criteria listed in the Regulation which include in particular public order and illegal immigration. In view of these two criteria, particular attention has to be paid to the security of travel documents issued by the third countries concerned. Future transfers of third countries to the positive list of Regulation (EC) 539/2001 could require that specific conditions related to the security of travel documents are fulfilled.
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