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European Parliament to discuss visa liberalization for Kuwait

BRUSSELS: Preparatory work is underway in the European Parliament for the negotiations to start with the Council of Minister on lifting of Schengen visa for Kuwaiti citizens, European Parliament sources said Thursday. EU ambassadors Wednesday approved the negotiating mandate for the EU Council of Ministers on the lifting of Schengen visa for Kuwait. On the basis of this mandate, the Council which represents the 27 EU states, will start negotiations with the European Parliament.

“At the moment, preparatory work is underway, but there isn’t yet a date for the next official steps. Most probably these will be discussed after the summer recess, when the Parliament’s legislative work continues on August 29,” the sources told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

The visa liberalization proposals for Kuwait was made by the European Commission on April 27 and announced in the European Parliament in May, which was the first step in the European Parliament procedure, said the sources. It will now first be discussed by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee for its approval, before discussions and vote in the full European Parliament, noted the sources.

First step

European Union ambassadors had on Wednesday approved the negotiating mandate for the EU Council of Ministers on the liberalization of short-stay Schengen visas for Kuwait and Qatar. On the basis of this mandate, the EU presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament, said an EU statement. Czech Republic takes over the rotating EU Presidency from France on July 1. The Council, which represents the 27 EU member states, confirmed the EU Commission’s proposal to provide for visa-free travel for the citizens of these two Gulf countries when travelling to the EU for a maximum duration of 90 days per 180-day period.

“The Council thus took the first step towards visa liberalization with Kuwait and Qatar, which should apply after the conclusion of bilateral agreements with these countries, in particular to ensure that full reciprocity of this exemption for EU citizens is maintained,” it noted. The entry into force of the exemption should also take place after the effective entry into operation of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), scheduled for 2023.

In its negotiating mandate, the Council stressed that particular attention should also be paid to regional coherence, notably with a view to strengthening people-to-people contacts and travel between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It therefore called on the European Commission to proceed rapidly to the assessment of the situation of these countries against the benchmarks with a view to exempting the other GCC member states from the visa requirement. – KUNA

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