Posted on 12.03.2013 in Featured, News, Russia

EU-Russia: Common steps towards visa free regime

The “Common steps towards visa free short-term travel of Russian and EU citizen” have been disclosed by the European Union and Russian Federation.

The agreement, signed in December 2011, lists criteria to be fulfilled by Russia before introducing visa-free regime between Russia and the EU. Similarly to Visa Liberalisation Action Plans (given by the EU to Easter Partnership countries), Common Steps group benchmarks into four policy blocks (1- document security, 2 – border management and irregular migration, 3 – public security, 4 – external relations and fundamental rights). However, unlike VLAPs, Common Step were not published, what was explained by the different form of the document: bilateral agreement instead of an unilateral action plan.

Disclosure of the Common Steps was demanded by civil society organisations. Coalition Member Open Society European Policy Institute (Brussels) took a number of steps aimed at the official disclosure of the List of Common Steps, incuding formal letters to the European Commission, the Council and complaints to the EU Ombudsman. In October 2012, the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum issued a statement prepared in cooperation with Visa-free Europe Coalition Members demanding publishing the agreement and all following Progress Reports.

We appreciate disclosure of the Common Steps and at the same time reiterate demand for publishing of Progress Reports on the implementation of Common Steps.

Full text of the Common Steps is available here.

EU-Russia CSF Statement on disclosure of Common Steps is available here.