The EU has agreed to suspend the visa facilitation agreement with Russia, in force since 2007 to speed up the entry of Russian citizens. This does not mean that it will close its borders to Russian tourists in a general way, but it does mean that, from now on, visas will be issued in a restricted, more controlled way and, therefore, in smaller quantities. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, explained after the meeting of EU foreign ministers that it is about “significantly reducing the number of new visas issued”.
“Since mid-July”, Borrell explained, “an increase in border crossings from Russia has been detected, which poses a security risk for these neighboring states. We have seen many Russians acting as if there is no war in Ukraine, and the Member States think that it is not possible to act as if everything is normal. We think that more needs to be done, and we have agreed that more needs to be done”.
Thus, Borrell explained that the 27 have agreed to the “total suspension of the EU visa facilitation agreement, which had now been suspended for certain sanctioned groups or individuals. This means the reduction of visa issuance by the Member States. The process will be longer, it is about avoiding a possible purchase of visas, and that will lead to visas being granted individually”.
“We do not want to separate ourselves from Russian civil society”, said Borrell, “and we are also concerned about the millions of visas already in existence, which is something that has to be addressed and needs a common approach, for which we invite the European Commission ”.
The process to travel from Russia “is going to be difficult, longer, more restrictive”, said Borrell, who also explained that the passports issued by the Russian authorities in the occupied territories of Ukraine will not be recognized: “During the debate, which has been a long and constructive debate, there have been some concerns about the situation in neighboring countries, which is becoming complicated. These countries can take measures at the national level to restrict entry to the European Union through their borders, always in accordance with the Schengen borders code of the European Union.
The head of European diplomacy has recognized that we must “be prepared to face the negative consequences on the part of Russia to these decisions. The aggression against Ukraine unfortunately does not seem to end soon. But this war is not just about Russia and Ukraine, but about the security and stability of the European continent as a whole. It has a broader impact around the world.”