Proposal for citizens of 10 PICs to travel visa free to Europe

2012-08-10T12:00:00Z

The European Commission this week has proposed adding 10 Pacific Island Countries – Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – besides Timor-Leste to the list of countries and territories whose nationals are exempt from the visas to travel to the Schengen countries.<!--more-->

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The move that also includes five Caribbean Island Nations (Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago) is aimed at simplifying travel not just to the Schengen area, but also to Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania. A national from one of these countries would no longer require a visa for short stays (up to 90 days) if they are in possession of a passport, be it for business, tourism or family visit purposes.

The Commission's proposal foresees that the visa exemption will be reciprocated through visa waiver agreements, ensuring a visa free regime for all EU citizens who wish to travel to these countries. Moreover, specific categories of British citizens currently under the visa obligation (an estimated 300,000 people mostly residing in British Overseas Territories like Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos islands) will also be exempted.

It is now up to the European Parliament and to the Council of the European Union to take a final decision on the Commission proposal, which is the result of the regular review process carried out by the European Commission. The visa regulation regime has been amended eight times.

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