On September 6, 2022 the European Commission made a proposal on the suspension of the Agreement on the facilitation of the issuance of visas to the citizens of European Union and Russian Federation and on the non-recognition of Russian travel documents issued in occupied foreign regions.
The EU-Russia Agreement
The Agreement between the European Union and Russia on the facilitation of the issuance of visas to the citizens of the EU and the Russian Federation (“Visa Facilitation Agreement”) entered into force 1st June 2007. This Agreement was aimed at facilitating the issuance of visas for stays of no more than 90 days over a period of 180 days to the citizens of the EU and Russia.
Then, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, the EU decided to inflict sanctions to Russia and on 31st August Member States decided for a proposal to suspend the Visa Facilitation Agreement, in view of reducing the number of new visas to be issued to Russian citizens by EU Member States. Consequently, the general rules of the Visa Code will apply instead.
The consequences for Russian citizens following the suspension of the Visa Facilitation Agreement are as follows:
- The cost of visas will raise from €35 to €80 for the applicants
- The deadline within which Consulates must decide on a visa request will increase from 10 to 15 days and it could be extended for a maximum of 45 days where it is necessary to thoroughly examine the request
- Rules on multiple entry visas in the Schengen areas will become more restrictive
- Recipients will have to present the complete list of supporting documents and not just the simplified list provided for in the Visa Facilitation Agreement
Instead, some categories of Russian applicants such as EU citizens’ relatives, reporters, dissidents and civil society representatives will still be able to enter the EU.
Non-recognition of Russian travel documents
Since the Member States have not recognised the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation that took place in 2014 or of other Russian occupied regions in Ukraine, travel documents issued by the Russian authorities in these territories have generally not been recognised by Member States for the purposes of issuing of visas and of crossing the external borders.
Council of the European Union and European Parliament decision
Now it is up to the Council of the European Union to examine and adopt the proposal for the suspension of the Visa Facilitation Agreement. Once it is adopted, the decision will enter into force two days after its publication in the EU official Gazette. The decision will then be notified to Russia within 48 hours from the entry into force.
The Council of the European Union, alongside the European Parliament, will have also to decide about the proposal for the non-recognition of Russian travel documents released in the occupied regions. The measures will enter into force the day after the publication of the decision in the EU official Gazette.