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Progress in EU-Russia visa dialogue but more work needed

December 19, 2013

The European Commission considers Russia has made progress in the implementation of the Common Steps under the EU-Russia Visa Dialogue, many of which can now be considered as fulfilled. However further work is necessary to address concerns and implement recommended actions, according to the first progress report on the common steps, released yesterday.
 
The report makes a full assessment of the four key fields essential for moving towards a visa free regime with the EU:
1. Document security;
2. Migration issues;
3. Public security including anti-corruption;
4. Human rights related to the freedom of movement.
 
The report uses information gathered during the past two years since the Common Steps document was agreed by the EU-Russia Summit in December 2011 and is based on exchanges of written information and field expert missions.
 
"Both the EU and Russia invested important efforts over the past years since the launch of the EU-Russia visa dialogue,” said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström. “This allowed us to gain better knowledge of each other's state of affairs in the area of justice, freedom and security, on a reciprocal basis. We are therefore able today to present to Russia the areas where further work is necessary to implement the Common Steps agreed between the EU and Russia, before the negotiations of a visa waiver agreement would be considered.”
 
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton added: "Much effort has been made on both sides in preparing for future visa liberalisation under the EU-Russia Common Steps and I hope we can continue our work on this in the same way. We are looking forward to concluding the visa waiver agreement for short term travel once the identified concerns and recommended actions have been addressed,” she said.
 
The report confirms progress of Russia in the implementation of many Common Steps. Russia has improved the security of its passport and rendered it compliant with international standards. Also the process of issuance of passports and documents necessary for that issuance was well assessed. Russia further developed its migration management system both by facilitating legal migration and focusing on curbing irregular migration. Efforts were also noted in the field of fighting terrorism and implementation of the international standards on money laundering. Positive steps have been taken in order to reduce statelessness.
 
But the report lists also concerns and recommendations, which need to be addressed. Issues identified include complex rules for short and long term stays in Russia, lengthy waiting time at some border crossing points between Russia and the EU, the lack of a comprehensive system to tackle human trafficking, anti-corruption policy, as well as the need for further efforts to tackle discrimination and xenophobia.
 
The EU-Russia Visa Dialogue was launched in spring 2007. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
 
Read more
 
Press release and background information
 
First progress report on Common Steps under the EU-Russia Visa Dialogue
 
Common Steps towards visa free short-term travel of Russian and EU citizens (December 2011)
 
Cecilia Malmström website
 
DG Home Affairs website 

EU Neighbourhood Info Centre webpage – Russia 


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