On 8 January, the EU and Belarus signed an agreement on visa facilitation and a readmission agreement. The EU believes that these agreements are an important step in EU-Belarus relations and pave the way for better mobility of citizens, which helps to strengthen ties between the EU and its eastern neighbours. In the agreements, the parties recognize the importance of obligations and responsibilities, including respect for human rights and democratic principles, arising from relevant international conventions applicable to them. Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, said: “These agreements will improve mobility in a well-managed and safe environment. Once restrictions on coronavirus-related travel are eased, it will be easier for Belarusian citizens to enter the EU. This means closer ties and closer exchanges between our people and societies. This is accompanied by an agreement on the readmission of people staying irregularly. The readmission agreement provides clear obligations and procedures for EU Member States and Belarus with regard to the readmission of citizens staying irregularly on the territory of the other party without authorisation. The agreement applies to the readmission of third-country nationals as well as third-country nationals and stateless persons, provided they have a clear link with the required country (for example. B a visa or residence permit). The agreement guarantees full respect for human rights and other obligations under international conventions.
Belarus is informed of the conclusions of these agreements, which come into force on the first day of the second month following the notification. This is expected on July 1, 2020. The visa facilitation agreement will make it easier for Belarusian citizens to obtain short-term visas to travel to the European Union. As soon as the visa facilitation agreement comes into force, the visa fee will be reduced to 35 euros. The EU-Belarus visa facilitation and readmission agreements come into force today. These agreements are an important step in strengthening the EU`s commitment to the people and civil society of Belarus. They will pave the way for better mobility of citizens travelling to the EU from Belarus and help to strengthen ties between Belarus and the EU. Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for the Promotion of Our European Way of Life, said: “Today is a concrete step that will bring Europeans and Belarusians closer together. The visa facilitation agreement will allow EU citizens and Belarusians to travel more freely, and the readmission agreement will also help to combat irregular migration and benefit both Belarus and the EU. The European Union is ready to blacklist Alyaksandr Lukashenko of Belarusian officials responsible for electoral fraud and brutality against protesters and opponents, as indicated by a draft RFE/RL. The document drawn up by the EU Council is expected to be adopted by the bloc`s 27 foreign ministers at their meeting in Brussels on 12 October.
It comes after the EU decided last week, after weeks of street protests against the results of the “rigged” presidential election, which gave Lukashenko a sixth term, visa bans and asset freezes for 40 Belarusian officials.