On 24 January, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Democratic Republic of the Congo informed the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium by note verbale of the decision by the Congolese Government shortly to close the Maison Schengen in Kinshasa. Given the uncertainty it is facing following this announcement and various contacts with the authorities, the Maison Schengen has been obliged to suspend its activities.
The Maison Schengen helps to implement the European Union’s common visa policy by facilitating the handling of visa applications for the States party to the Schengen Agreement. The 18 States that participate in the consular arrangements at the Maison Schengen in Kinshasa attach importance to preserving this form of local consular cooperation in order to ensure continuity and quality in the visa service provided to Congolese citizens. With this in mind, they remain open to dialogue.
As regards the decision to suspend the activities of the Belgian cooperation agency, the EU would stress that its actions and those of its Member States to promote development for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its population complement one another. Restrictions on one of its Member States risk undermining the collective effort on behalf of the Congolese people.