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Commission welcomes the adoption of mandates for visa facilitation and readmission agreements with Moldova

Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security, welcomed the adoption of the two mandates and other practical steps taken to facilitate obtaining of visas by Moldovan citizens.

Commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner, responsible for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy stated that “This is an important step in establishing closer people-to-people contacts between the citizens of Moldova and the European Union but at the same time to ensure the return of illegal migrants. This should be seen as part of a coherent strategy to strengthen our relations in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy ".

After the discussion at the Council in October, the Commission put forward the draft negotiating directives regarding a readmission agreement and a visa facilitation agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Moldova on 30 November 2006. In less than 20 days these mandates were adopted by the Council.

The Republic of Moldova has on a number of occasions expressed the problems its citizens encounter obtaining Schengen visas: its citizens have to travel to neighbouring countries to obtain a Schengen visa as only two Schengen Member States have consulates in the Republic of Moldova. Besides, countries surrounding the Republic of Moldova - Russian Federation, Ukraine and Romania – soon a member of the EU - will have either a visa facilitation regime in the near future or have visa free travel.

The visa facilitation agreement will not lift the visa requirement for Moldovan citizens (except for holders of Diplomatic passports) or facilitate the conditions for issuing visas. It will streamline the procedure of processing visa applications, allowing handling fees to be maintained at today's level (?35 instead of ?60).

Furthermore for certain categories of persons, like businessmen, students or researchers, the necessary documentary evidence will be simplified, making it possible for them to obtain multi-entry visas with long periods of validity and exempt them from handling fees. The readmission agreement will set out clear obligations and procedures for the authorities of both the Republic of Moldova and EU Member States as to when and how to take back people who are illegally residing in their territories.

The negotiation process with Moldova will start as soon as possible with the aim of ensuring a simultaneous entry into force of the two agreements before January 1st 2008.For further information:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/external/neighbourhood/wai/fsj_external_neighbourhood_eastern_en.htm

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