The EU/EEA countries have established visa-free traveling among all member states and have also free traveling to many other countries that grant EU/EEA citizens the right to enter the country with merely a passport. While this is certainly a nice privilege to EU/EEA citizens, it must seem like a horrible system to those European citizens that are not members of this system. This is a multilateral social issue that needs to be addressed and regulated Europe wide.
Besides the fact that Germany and France have just demanded to reintroduce visas for Balkan states, there is a huge part of Europe that already enjoys visa-free travel. Only citizens of the following European countries are currently exempt: Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkey (COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 539/2001). EU citizens have been granted visa-free travel and work to all of these countries but Russia and Belarus.
Looking back at the time before the enlargement of the European Union in 2004, there were many voices that warned of an uncontrollable migration to the old member states. The enlargement happened anyways, and the inclusion of these 10 states has not lead to such migration. Contrary, it has enabled people from all member states to travel freely and raised the level of prosperity and peace in all regions. Thus, there is really no reason for which these 8 countries should not be granted this privilege. In fact, these are crucial reasons for granting mutual visa-fee travel. This visa-free travel could be set up with the typical 90 days for travel and work. As none of these countries will join the European Union anytime soon, creating mutual visa regulations between all European countries would be a fair and smart move.
After the EU-Russia Summit in June 2012, the President of the European Council, Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, has remarked the following: “Visa free travel remains our common goal. Easier contacts between people are the backbone of closer relations and benefits all of us.” As the political giants EU and Russia have already started the political process of allowing mutual visa-free travel, the smaller countries should not be excluded of this process. We all are the people that Van Rompuy mentioned, not only the ones in the EU and Russia. This backbone of European people is what really counts in maintaining and developing prosperity and peace for all of us.
Visa free travel remains our common goal. Easier contacts between people are the backbone of closer relations and benefits all of us.
As the European Union has already been awarded the Nobel Peace Price for its contribution to peace and prosperity in Europe, it would be a shame if it didn’t spread this achievement further and enhance prosperity and peace all over Europe. One crucial way is to connect people and bring them closer together by establishing a European visa free zone.
I personally stand for this visa free zone in all Europe and that this current privilege is turned into a right for all European citizens to move freely for travel and work. This is not only a fair thing for all European citizens, but it would strengthen European relations, foster business development and growth, and form a stronger community of all people in Europe that will ensure lasting prosperity and peace.
- Council of the European Union, (2001). Council regulation (ec) no 539/2001 (2001R0539). Retrieved from European Union website: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?
- Enlargement. (2011, November 11). Retrieved from http://europa.eu/pol/enlarg/index_en.htm
- Europa. (2011). Retrieved from http://europa.eu/travel/doc/index_en.htm
- Van Rompuy, H. Council of the European Union, (2012).Press remarks following the eu-russia summit(EUCO 111/12). Retrieved from European Union website: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/130608.pdf
- 2013 European Year of Citizens (libraryeuroparl.wordpress.com)
- Visa-free regime between Russia and EU just around the corner (english.pravda.ru)
- Germany and France demand reintroduction of Balkan visas (euobserver.com)
- Georgia may get action plan on visa regime liberalization with EU in December (en.trend.az)
- Armenia, EU initial deal on easier visas (nzweek.com)