Brussels, Minsk may ease visa regime soon – top EU diplomat

Belarus and the European Union will sign the visa facilitation agreement in the near future, Dirk Shuebel, Head of the EU Delegation to Belarus, told state-run TV station ONT.

“I think the good news will be announced soon. I cannot specify when the agreement will come into force, but I assure you that the process will not last for long,” the top EU diplomat said.

In September, the European Commission submitted the signing of the Agreement on visa facilitation with Belarus to the working bodies of the Council of the European Union. The cost of a Schengen visa for citizens of Belarus will be reduced from €60 to €35 two months after the signing of the Treaty on Visa Facilitation and Readmission by Belarus and the European Union.

At the same time, the following categories of persons will benefit from a full waiver of the visa fee: children under the age of 12, persons with disabilities, close relatives, members of official delegations participating in government activities, pupils, students and post-graduate students, representatives of civil society organisations, humanitarian cases and persons participating in scientific, cultural, artistic activities and sport events.

“If all necessary actions have been taken, we will be happy to sign the agreement on reducing the cost of single- and multiple-entry visas to €35,” Dirk Schuebel stressed.

In early October, Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, was reported to have cancelled her visit to Belarus. Earlier, Andrea Wiktorin, a former Head of the EU Delegation to Belarus, said that Federica Mogherini might arrive in our country for ‘signing the visa facilitation agreement’.

Meanwhile, starting from February 2020, Schengen visas may become much more expensive for Belarusians if Minsk and Brussels fail to agree.

Belarus – EU visa agreement may be delayed because of Lukashenka