EU launches negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Armenia (27/02/2012)

Today the European Union, represented by the European Commission, and the Government of Armenia, represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched negotiations on two agreements to facilitate respectively the procedures for issuing short-stay visas, as well as the readmission of irregular migrants between the European Union and Armenia.

The visa facilitation and readmission negotiations with Armenia follow the political commitment taken at the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit in May 2009 regarding the improvement of people to people contacts. In September 2011, the European Commission proposed opening negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Armenia. The agreements on visa facilitation and readmission will enter into force simultaneously. 

The Visa Facilitation and Readmission agreements provide for:
- lower visa fee for all citizens,
- fee waivers for certain categories (e.g. family members, pensioners),
- a maximum processing time of 10 calendar days,
- simplified supporting document requirements,
- wider issuance of multiple-entry visas for certain categories (e.g. business people),
- visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic passports and
- enhanced mobility in a secured and well-managed environment.

On the other hand, the Readmission Agreement provides for reciprocal obligations on the contracting parties to readmit their national and also, under certain conditions, third country nationals and stateless persons which are in an irregular situation on the territory of the other party. They also set out in detail the operational and technical criteria for this process.

The EU has already launched a Mobility Partnership with Armenia in October 2011, a non-legally binding framework for managing movements of people, in which ten EU Member States participate (Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Sweden).

Background
The EU's visa policy is aimed at achieving a proper balance between internal security and external stabilisation, acceptable to all sides. One of the EU’s foreign policy instruments for achieving this aim are the visa facilitation and readmission agreements. So far, the EU has concluded visa facilitation agreements with nine non-EU countries, three of which are our Eastern partners the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine. Based on these agreements, citizens from these countries will benefit from facilitated procedures for issuing visas.