EU foreign ministers reached a consensus on suspending a visa facilitation agreement with Russia, but not on a full visa ban
The European foreign ministers have reached a political consensus to fully suspend the visa facilitation agreement between the European Union and Russia, which has been in effect since 2007.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said in a news conference following the meeting that this decision “will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by the EU member states,” given that the process would become more difficult and take longer. Borrell said that since mid-July, there has been a “substantial increase on border crossings from Russia in neighboring states,” which has become “a security risk for these states.”
“The process is going to be more difficult, it is going to be longer. And consequently, the number of new visas will be substantially reduced. This is a common approach, and a common approach will prevent a potential “visa shopping” by Russians — going here and there, trying to look for the better conditions,” said Borrel.
Visas were already restricted to some categories of Russian nationals. Borrell said that this is not a legal text but only a political agreement at this point, which will have to be approved by all member states at a European Council level.