After months of intense lobbying, it seems Russia is one promising step closer to gaining visa-free travel to the EU. The Moscow News reports that Russian and Euro diplomats are working together to create a list of joint steps that, if completed, would eliminate the need for travel visas between Russia and the EU.
“Together we will define the parameters on both sides,” said Vladimir Voronkov, head of the foreign ministry’s department of European Cooperation. “Both Russia and the EU will act as completely equal partners in the development of these steps and a future agreement on a visa-free regime. This is a new practice in the EU, and it will help Russia develop joint steps towards visa-free travel with all EU countries.”
To achieve visa-free travel, Russia must begin issuing biometric passports (a change Russia plans to begin in autumn), develop plans making it easier for citizens and non-citizens to travel and stay in Russia or Europe, and address concerns about cross-border smuggling and illegal migration, among other things.
There is also, of course, limitations to the visa-free travel plans. Visa waivers would only apply to short visits (up to 180 days each year), and travel would be initially limited to countries in the Schengen zone.
“The idea is to create a visa-free regime between Russia and EU countries outside the Schengen area,” Manservizi added. “But since the latter includes countries which are not members of the EU, those countries (Switzerland, Iceland, Norway – ed.) will have to conclude individual agreements with Russia.”
Officials hope to approve the final details of the list on May 19 and then formally adopt the joint steps document at the Nizhny Novgoro summit meeting June 9 -10. No guesses on when the joint list of steps might be completed.
Perhaps one day Russian women and their European sweethearts will be able to visit one another without the hassle of complicated travel visas!