The European Commission proposed a full suspension of the European Union’s Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia on Tuesday, 6 September. The Council of the European Union will now make the relevant decision.
According to the European Commission, the suspension of the agreement is in response to increased risks and threats to the Union's security interests and the national security of its member states as a result of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, the CFTS portal reports.
"Russian citizens should not have easy access to the EU, and of course, to be a tourist in the EU is not a fundamental right. Today the commission has adopted a proposal to fully suspend the Visa Facilitation Agreement with Russia. At the moment, there is no basis for trust; no basis for a privileged relation between the EU and Russia. This suspension means that Russian citizens will no longer enjoy privileged access to the EU, for example, for tourism or leisure purposes. They will face a lengthier and more expensive – more than double the price – and more difficult visa-application process, as well as more restrictions for multiple-entry visas," European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said at a press conference.
However, the EU will remain open to certain categories of Russian visa applicants traveling for essential purposes, including notably family members of EU citizens, journalists, dissidents, and civil society representatives.
According to the European Commission, Russian applicants will face a higher visa fee (the visa fee will increase from EUR 35 to EUR 80 for all applicants); the standard deadline for consulates to take a decision on visa applications will increase from 10 to 15 days (this period may be extended up to a maximum of 45 days in individual cases, when further scrutiny of the application is needed); applicants will have to submit the full list of documentary evidence when applying for a visa and they will no longer benefit from the simplified list included in the Visa Facilitation Agreement.
"I am confident that the European Council will adopt this proposal swiftly and that this will happen already this week. That means we will have a new common visa regime towards Russia on Monday morning," Johansson said.
In response to questions, the European commissioner said that there are currently fewer than 800,000 valid visas for Russian citizens. According to her, with the suspension of the Visa Facilitation Agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation, there will be a possibility for member states to re-examine all the existing valid visas based on the guidelines that the European Commission plans to present.