14:20 27.02.2017

EU Council approves suspension mechanism of visa-free regime

European Union Council adopted a resolution at the meeting on Monday providing for the suspension of the visa-free regime for third countries.

"Visa liberalisation brings great advantages to the EU and third countries. At the same time, the EU must be able to respond effectively in cases where the rules are not being respected. The revision of the suspension mechanism adopted today makes it easier to tackle abuse of the system," the press service quoted Carmelo Abela, Maltese Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, as saying on Monday.

The Council and the European Parliament now need to sign the adopted regulation. The signed text will be published in the EU Official Journal and will enter into force 20 days later.

As reported, on February 15, the European Parliament finally approved a bill providing for the suspension of visa-free travel to third countries.

The possible grounds for suspension have been extended, and include a decrease in cooperation on readmission, a substantial increase in the refusal rate of readmission applications, including for third-country nationals in transit, and a substantial increase in the risk to public policy or the internal security of the member states.

The suspension can be triggered by a notification of a member state or by the Commission. If a simple majority of member states notify, the Commission will have to adopt an implementing decision temporarily suspending the exemption from the visa requirement for certain categories of nationals of the third country concerned for a period of 9 months. During this period, the Commission shall establish an enhanced dialogue with the third country concerned to remedy the circumstances in question. If the circumstances persist, the Commission shall adopt (at the latest two months prior to the expiry of the nine months) a delegated act temporarily suspending the visa waiver for a further period of 18 months, for all the nationals of the third country concerned.

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