On 6 September, the European Commission proposed a full suspension of the EU’s Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia.
This means that Russian citizens will no longer enjoy privileged access to the EU and face a lengthier, more expensive and more difficult visa application process. Member States will have wide discretion in processing short-stay visa applications from Russian citizens, and will be able to ensure greater scrutiny in respect of Russian nationals travelling to the EU.
The EU will remain open to certain categories of Russian visa applicants travelling for essential purposes, including notably family members of EU citizens, journalists, dissidents and civil society representatives.
According to the European Commission press release, the suspension is in response to increased risks and threats to the security interests of the Union and national security of member states as a result of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.
“A country like Russia, waging a war of aggression, should not qualify for visa facilitations as long as it continues conducting its destructive foreign policy and military aggression towards Ukraine, demonstrating a complete disregard to the international rules-based order,” the press release said.
“There can be no business as usual with Russia,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter. “Visa facilitation is a token of trust, which Russia’s war of aggression has completely shattered.”
The Commission is also today presenting a proposal on the non-recognition of Russian passports issued in occupied areas of Ukraine.
These proposals follow the political agreement reached by Foreign Affairs Ministers at their informal meeting of 31 August in Prague.
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