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31 Aug, 2022 13:05

EU to suspend visa deal with Russia

Top diplomat confirmed that the bloc's members have agreed to drop an accord allowing Russians to enter the EU under simplified rules
EU to suspend visa deal with Russia

Josep Borrell, the EU’s top foreign policy official, confirmed on Wednesday that foreign ministers of the member states agreed to fully suspend an agreement with Moscow that allowed Russian citizens to apply for EU visas under a simplified procedure.

Borell claimed in a tweet that "a substantial increase of border crossings from Russia into neighbouring states" is posing a security risk.

"We therefore agree today with EU Foreign Ministers on Full Suspension of the EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement," he wrote. The official did not elaborate on when exactly the change will come into force.

The decision was reported earlier in the day by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. The official said that there was no unanimity among EU members for a harsher general visa ban. But the proposal to suspend the agreement only requires a qualified majority of votes, and “it became clear from today’s speeches that it exists,” he added.

Borrell did not elaborate on when exactly when the change of the visa procedure will come into force.

Possible visa restrictions are being discussed this week during a two-day informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague. A full ban had been advocated by nations such as Poland and the three Baltic states, which are more hawkish on the issue than their Western European counterparts Germany and France.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said ahead of the meeting in Prague that her country promoted the suspension of the 2006 agreement as a compromise solution between the hardliners and those that didn’t want to target Russian tourists at all.