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International Conference: Does it really matter? Visa facilitation in the Western Balkans: Monitoring of the New Agreements

Date

08 Dec 2008

Sections

EU Priorities 2020

Brussels 10 December 2008

Crown Plaza Europa Hotel

On 1 January 2008 the Visa Facilitation Agreement (VFA) came into force for citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia to make Schengen visa procedures easier for travelling to the EU.

The VFA envisages benefits such as a unified visa fee of 35 Euro, total exemption from the fee for certain categories of applicants on personal or professional grounds, decisions on visas to be made within 10 calendar days and the simplification of over-burdensome administrative procedures.  From this stems the expectation that the travel to the 24 countries in the Schengen zone should now be trouble free, including obtaining multiple-entry short-term visas.

The aim of the project “Does it really matter? Visa facilitation in the Western Balkans: Monitoring of the New Agreements”   was to verify if the agreement provisions were accomplished effectively on the ground. The second aim was to provide better access for citizens to the benefits offered by the VFA.
 
An ECAS hotline was launched on the 10 June 2008 in the five countries coupled with a more scientific survey of people coming out of consulates. A free-toll telephone line was set up in each country and open to citizens to ask questions and/or share their experiences. The survey of visa applicants in front of selected EU Members

States consulates  was conducted in May and early June 2008. It was based on the Batory Foundation methodology whereby a team of several persons interview visa applicants.

The final report of the hotline and the results of the survey will be presented during the conference in Brussels on 10 December. The monitoring conducted in the region has highlighted problems with the implementation of these agreements by member states’ consulates which are hampering their effectiveness. Moreover, differences in implementation of the VFAs between different EU member states have been recorded.

To consult the agenda of the conference including the overview of the issues for debate please follow the link. The press is more then welcome to attend this event.

For further information please contact:

Tony Venables                     Kenan Hadzimusic

Director                         Project Manager

ECAS – European Citizen Action Service     ECAS - European Citizen Action
Tel: +32 (0) 2 548 04 98     Service

E-mail: t.venables@ecas.org                 Tel: +32 (0) 2 548 04 93

E-mail: kenan.hadzimusic@ecas.org

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