Moldova gets first vote for visa free travel in EU’s Schengen zone
Moldova got 45 votes in favor, 2 against and one abstention in a decision to lift visa requirements for Moldovan citizens willing to travel to the European Union’s Schengen zone. The vote was casted within the EU Parliament’s Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on Wednesday.
“The country has met all the conditions and I sincerely congratulate Moldova for its efforts, taking a first step on it European path,” the rapporteur for visa liberalization for Moldova Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD) said after the adoption of the report. “With the entry into the visa-free regime, dreams will come true for the citizens of Moldova; this historical step will strengthen not only economic and political cooperation but especially people-to-people contact.”
Moldova is becoming the first country of the Eastern Partnership to get visa liberalization for travelling to Schengen. Negotiations with Moldova on visa liberalization lasted for more than three years.
Thwarting statements of Romanian President Traian Basescu about reunification of his country with Moldova, Ms. Fajon said that they “could bear sever consequences and negatively contribute to the atmosphere among the citizens of Moldova.”
“The abolition of visa requirements for holders of Moldovan biometric passports in no way threatens the sovereignty of Moldova, as I have repeatedly pointed out during the January official visit to the country. On the contrary, I am convinced that this will also contribute to resolve internal issues,” Ms. Fajon pointed out.
Today’s vote is not the last one before Moldovans can freely travel within the Schengen zone. The European Parliament is expected to give the final green light for the abolition of visas for Moldova in the plenary session in Strasbourg at the end of February. This will be followed by the Council of Ministers, which is likely to approve the decision at the beginning of March.
“The Moldovan citizens could by the summer already travel to the Schengen area visa-free. Closer integration of Moldova with the EU can be a good opportunity for Slovenia as well, as despite its size due to the rapid development offers many opportunities for economic and other cooperation,” MEP Tanja Fajon concluded.
Moldovan citizens will also be able to travel to Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus (non-Schengen EU member states) once visa requirements for the Schengen zone are lifted.
Great Britain and Ireland do not fully apply the Schengen acquis; therefore no visa-free journeys to these countries will be allowed. However, the Moldovans will be able to travel to Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland, which are non-EU member states, but part of the Schengen zone.
It is, however, important to note that Moldovans will be able to travel within the Schengen zone and the other four countries for 90 days during a six-month-long period. The opportunity to travel visa-free does not provide the citizens of Moldova the opportunity to seek employment within the Schengen countries.