The Counsel of the European Union announced on 18 November that the EU and Belarus have entered a visa facilitation and readmission agreements together. The agreements will facilitate lower visa entrance fees and easier visa acquisition procedures for Belarusian nationals entering the Schengen Zone.
The agreements have been endorsed by both parties, and once in effect, short-term visa entrance fees for business and tourism purposes for Belarus citizens entering the Schengen Zone will be reduced to 35 euros from the current price of 60 euros.
The new agreements will ensure a stay of a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period for both EU and Belarusian citizens traveling between Belarus and the Schengen Zone on the basis of reciprocity.
“On 28 February 2011, the Council authorized the Commission to open negotiations with the Republic of Belarus on an Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Belarus on the facilitation of the issuance of visas, in parallel with the negotiations of an agreement on the readmission of persons residing without authorization,” reads a EU Counsel decision. “The negotiations were successfully concluded by the initialing of the Agreement via exchange of emails on 17 June 2019.”
Although the decision is made in conjunction with the Counsel of the European Union, it will not apply to the UK, Ireland, or Denmark.
The two agreements, both approved by the EU and Belarus, will allow for cheaper and simplified visa procedures and fees, and could encourage more trade and tourism between the Schengen Zone and Belarus.
“The two agreements will enter into force simultaneously on the first day of the second month following the date on which the parties notify each other that the ratification procedures have been completed. Once the visa facilitation agreement has entered into force, the visa fee will be automatically reduced to 35 euros for all Belarusian citizens. Many categories of Belarusian citizens – depending on their travel purpose – will be able to have visa fee requirements waived and will be able to obtain longer-validity multiple-entry visas in a simplified manner,” said Dirk Scheubel, head of the European Union’s Delegation to Belarus.
The agreements, although in process for several years now, came to be reality when the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, signed the agreement with the EU in September. An exact date for the agreement to take effect is not yet known, but it will happen on the first day of the second month after both parties have notified each other of the completion of ratification procedures.