Belarus: EU concludes agreements on visa facilitation and readmission

br_The Council today adopted two decisions to conclude a visa facilitation agreement and a readmission agreement with Belarus.

„Visa statistics are evidence of the growing importance of relations between the EU and Belarus. In 2019 the number of Schengen visa applications in Belarus reached almost 650 000. The conclusion of a visa facilitation agreement is an important step in the relationship between our people and will help strengthen our economic, cultural and scientific ties.”
Davor Bozinovic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Croatia

The visa facilitation agreement will make it easier and cheaper for Belarus citizens travelling to the Schengen area and EU citizens travelling to Belarus to obtain a visa. The agreement simplifies the documentation which needs to be presented by certain categories of citizens as well as the issuance of multiple entry visas for some categories of frequent travellers. It also reduces the general fee for processing visa applications to 35 euros. Holders of diplomatic passports are exempt from the visa obligation. This agreement applies to short term travel, defined as a stay of no more than 90 days in any 180 days period.

This is accompanied by an agreement on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation. The readmission agreement sets out clear obligations and procedures for EU member states and Belarus on the readmission of citizens illegally residing in the territory of the other party without authorisation. The agreement covers both the readmission of own nationals as well as third country nationals and stateless persons, provided they have a clear link with the requested country (for example a visa or residence permit). Full respect of human rights and other obligations under international instruments are ensured in the agreement.

Belarus will be notified of the conclusions of these agreements, which will enter into force on the first day of the second month following the notification. This is expected to be on 1 July 2020.