The Netherlands and Nigeria Resume Schengen Zone Cooperation

Nigeria on Africa map

There is little denying the critical importance that bilateral relations play in economic development and cultural exchange.

One key component of this process is the visa application scheme that governs this relationship between countries on a granular level.

As the theory goes, removing barriers to trade both large and small should result in net gains for all involved and that’s probably one among many reasons that Nigerians are eager to resume Schengen zone cooperation with the Netherlands.

After a long absence beginning in 2013, the Netherlands is set to resume full diplomatic operations in Nigeria “soon” after reopening in 2018. This comes from Oji Ngofa, Nigeria’s ambassador to the Netherlands, expressed sentiments along those exact lines and promised to work with Dutch officials to make this process available as soon as possible. The comments came ahead of a visit by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to Nigeria.

Since 2013, Nigerians have relied upon the French Consulate-General in Lagos and the Embassy of Belgium in Abuja for visa administration for the Netherlands. As part of the process of restoring this service, the Netherlands has upgraded their trade mission in Lagos to consulate status Ngofa stressed the principles of reciprocity and cooperation in bilateral relations between the two countries, stating, “We have had consular dialogues with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are trying to ensure that all the obstacles towards achieving the direct issuance of visas are removed. Because at the moment, they have outsourced the issuance of visas to the French Consulate in Lagos and the Belgium Embassy here in Abuja.”

He continued, “And we think that is not reciprocal because at the moment, we are offering our services to them in the Hague and we think that they should resume. Since 2013, they closed their consulate in Nigeria that was issuing visas. Now, that has been reopened, it was part of the agenda during the visit of the Minister of Development Cooperation in July. We have upgraded their trade office in Lagos to a Consulate and we hope that should be a stepping stone to the issuance of visas by the Netherlands to Nigerians who wish to travel to Schengen countries. We are very positive, very soon we would have a positive outcome. We have had a lot of complaints from Nigerians who wish to travel to the Netherlands or to Europe through the Netherlands.”

Ngofa further reiterated his commitment to seeing this process through and underscored just how critical it was to Nigerians – as well as the future of bilateral relations between the two groups.

As far as the greater Schengen zone reciprocity issue is concerned, the prospect of easier cooperation and smoothed out visa procedures presents a unique opportunity for Nigerians and EU citizens alike in terms of economic and cultural exchange. While no timeline was offered by Ngofa on when this goal would be achieved, he did outline that it is the primary goal of his tenure and, as such, is being given paramount priority.

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