This is the first report since the entry into force of the revised visa reciprocity mechanism in January
"Intensive and constructive work has taken place over the last months with
In early 2014 the Commission received notifications from
To discuss the state of play and the steps needed to achieve full visa reciprocity as soon as possible, the Commission established a new, more dynamic and results-oriented approach: a framework of regular tripartite meetings between the third country, the Member State(s) concerned and the Commission. All third countries concerned have agreed with this approach.
The first meetings have demonstrated that there is a need for further clarifications and information regarding the national criteria and procedures applied by the third countries concerned for granting the visa waiver and the fulfilment of these criteria by the Member States. These exchanges will be actively pursued and the situation assessed every 6 months, in accordance with the provisions of the revised mechanism.
Taking into account the confirmation by the third countries of the shared objective of mutual visa free travel, the positive engagement in the tripartite approach and the fact that none of the Member States concerned has requested the Commission to suspend the exemption from the visa requirement for certain categories of nationals of the third country concerned, the Commission considers that, at this stage, it would not be appropriate to adopt such suspension measures.
Not all third countries' nationals must have a visa in order to travel to the Schengen area for a short stay. The EU has a common list of countries whose citizens must have a visa ("the negative list") and of countries whose citizens are exempt from that requirement ("the positive list") (see Council Regulation (EC) 539/2001).
It is therefore logical that, in the spirit of solidarity, the EU also seeks that third countries on the "positive list" grant a visa waiver to citizens of all EU Member States. For this reason, a visa reciprocity mechanism has been set up. This mechanism was recently amended (Regulation (EU) 1289/2013) with a view to make it more efficient and to ensure more solidarity in the implementation of the common visa policy.
In accordance with the provisions of the amending Regulation, Member States have to send their notifications of the non-reciprocity situations to the Commission. The Commission then publishes information about these notifications in the Official Journal of the EU without delay.
There is no automaticity at this stage between notifications and possible initiatives for reintroduction of a visa requirement for certain categories of third country nationals. According to the new Regulation, it is up to the European Commission to take such a decision or not: every six months following the publication of the notification and during a period of maximum two years, the Commission may either adopt a measure temporarily suspending the visa waiver for certain categories of citizens of the third country concerned or report why it did not propose such a measure.
If the third country has not lifted the visa requirement within 24 months of the publication date, the automatic introduction of the visa requirement for all citizens of the third country concerned will enter into play, provided that neither the European Parliament nor the Council opposes such a measure.