Belarus-EU agreement may be signed before increasing Schengen visa fee

The agreement on visa facilitation between Belarus and the European Union are expected to be signed before 2 February 2020, Head of the EU Delegation to Belarus Andrea Wiktorin said on Monday.

“We will sign the agreement on visa facilitation. I cannot say the specific date but all the documents have already been prepared and both sides are undertaking legal procedures,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the top official.

As reported earlier, the costs of Schengen visa processing will be increased from €60 to €80 on 2 February 2020. The amendment will have a direct bearing on Belarusians. For the citizens of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, the fee will not change. They will continue to pay 35 euros for the visa — this amount is specified in the agreements of these countries with the EU to simplify the issuance of visas.

According to the experts, the upcoming rise is the bad news for the Belarusian authorities.

“This is a very unpopular measure. I think that our Foreign Ministry will do everything to tackle the issue of visa liberalization. By the end of 2019, a Schengen visa will cost Belarusians €35 instead of €80 or € 60,” Vlad Vyalichka, General Director of International Consortium EuroBelarus, believes.

During the events linked to the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership in Brussels, Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey expressed hope that the agreement on visa facilitation will be signed before the end of the year. European Commissioner Johannes Hahn noted that the negotiations on this document were ‘more or less’ completed. After the agreement enters into force, Schengen visas should go down in price to 35 euros (when issued at the embassy), the number of free and long-term visas will increase.

10 years of EaP: Will EU simplify visa regime for Belarus?