Today, the Commission proposes to completely suspend the EU’s visa facilitation agreement with Russia. A country like Russia, which is waging a war of aggression, should not be eligible for visa facilitation as long as it continues its destructive foreign policy and military aggression against Ukraine and demonstrates complete contempt for the rules-based international order. The suspension of the agreement is a response to the increased risk and threat to the security interests of the Union and to the national security of the member states as a result of Russian military aggression against Ukraine. The suspension means that Russian citizens will no longer have privileged access to the EU and will face a longer, more expensive and more difficult visa application process. Member States will have broad decision-making powers when processing Russian citizens’ applications for short-term visas and will be able to ensure deeper checks on Russian citizens traveling to the EU. The European Union will remain open to certain categories of Russian essential travel visa applicants. including and especially family members of EU citizens, journalists, dissidents and representatives of civil society.
Today, the Commission is also presenting a proposal on the non-recognition of Russian passports issued in the illegally occupied regions of Ukraine.
These proposals are based on a political agreement reached by foreign ministers at an informal meeting on 31 August on a common and coordinated approach to issuing visas to Russian citizens.
Vice-President for the Promotion of the European Way of Life Margaritis China to this he stated: “The EU’s visa policy is a sign of trust – a trust that Russia completely undermined when it attacked Ukraine unprovoked and unprovoked. As long as Russian military aggression against the EU candidate country continues, Russian citizens will not be able to benefit from simplified travel to Europe. The European Union thus once again shows its unwavering unity in response to Russian military aggression.”
Commissioner for Internal Affairs Ylva Johansson she added: “With its illegal military actions, Russia continues to violate international law, commit atrocities against Ukrainians, and undermine European and global security and stability. His actions violate the basic principles on which the visa facilitation agreement was concluded and are in conflict with the interests of the EU and its member states. Today’s proposal represents a strong and united EU response. We will also soon adopt additional guidelines to ensure deeper checks on visa applications and border crossings by Russian citizens, without cutting off contacts with Russian dissidents and civil society.”
The end of the privileged access of Russian citizens to the EU
The proposal to suspend the visa facilitation agreement will end all simplification for Russian citizens applying for short-term visas to the Schengen area. Instead, the general rules of the Visa Code will apply to them.
This means in practice that Russian visa applicants will have to calculate:
- with a higher visa fee: This will increase from 35 to 80 euros for all applicants.
- with longer application processing time: The standard period for issuing a decision on a visa application will be extended from 10 to 15 days. This period can be extended up to 45 days in some cases where the application needs to be assessed in more depth.
- with stricter rules for issuing multiple entry visas: The conditions for issuing visas valid for multiple entries into the Schengen area will become more difficult.
- with a longer list of documents: Applicants will need to submit a full list of documents when applying for a visa. The simplified list according to the visa facilitation agreement will no longer apply to them.
The EU has concluded visa facilitation agreements with only a few countries. These agreements are based on mutual trust and respect for common values between the EU and the country in question. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is incompatible with a relationship based on trust and goes against the spirit of partnership on which visa facilitation agreements are based. It thus justifies measures to protect the basic security interests of the EU and its member states.
Since the beginning of Russian aggression against Ukraine, the situation has continued to deteriorate, with tragic humanitarian consequences for the civilian population and widespread destruction of key infrastructure.
Non-recognition of Russian passports issued in the occupied regions of Ukraine
Today, the Commission is also proposing a common EU approach to not recognizing Russian passports issued in occupied foreign regions, as Russia expands the practice of issuing ordinary Russian passports also in other territories of Ukraine that are not under the control of the Ukrainian government, namely in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. Member States would so should not recognize Russian passports issued in the occupied regions of Ukraine as valid documents for the purposes of issuing visas and crossing the external borders of the EU. This legislative proposal will ensure a binding approach applicable in all Member States and will replace the voluntary measures taken by Member States since the illegal annexation of Crimea. It is another step in the EU’s joint response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine and Russia’s practice of issuing passports in occupied foreign regions.
Now proposal to suspend the visa facilitation agreement discussed and adopted by the Council. After its adoption, it will enter into force on the second day after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU. The suspension decision will be notified to Russia no later than 48 hours before it takes effect.
O proposal on non-recognition of Russian travel documents issued in occupied foreign regions will be decided by the European Parliament and the Council. The measure will enter into force on the first day after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.
The Commission will also submit soon additional instructions for Member States’ consulates regarding general visa issues with Russia, including the implementation of the suspension of the Visa Facilitation Agreement.
EU-Russia visa facilitation came into force in June 2007. It facilitates the granting of visas to citizens of the Union and the Russian Federation for intended stays of no more than 90 days in any 180-day period.
As of September 1, 2022, there were approx 963,000 Russians.
At an informal meeting on 31 August, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs agreed to common and coordinated procedure, regarding the issuance of visas to Russian citizens, including the complete suspension of the visa facilitation agreement. The ministers also agreed that passports issued by Russian authorities in the occupied territories of Ukraine will not be recognized. Visa applications will continue to be processed and assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The European Union partially suspended the application of the visa facilitation agreement with Russia on February 25, 2022, with regard to members of Russian official delegations and Russian businessmen. Today’s proposal will suspend the agreement in its entirety, meaning that all simplifications will be suspended for all Russian applicants.
The passport non-recognition proposal comes after the Commission issued a series of guidelines in 2014, 2016 and 2019 on access to visa applications submitted by applicants from Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk and on the non-recognition of certain Russian passports.
The Union reiterates its unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.
Questions and Answers
Proposal for a Council Decision on the suspension of the EU-Russia Visa Facilitation Agreement
Draft decision of the European Parliament and the Council on the non-recognition of Russian travel documents issued in occupied foreign regions
Agreement between the EU and Russia on the simplification of the visa regime