Mobility Partnership Signed Between the EU and Azerbaijan

The EU and the Republic of Azerbaijan officially launched a Mobility Partnership today, when Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ambassador Fuad Isgandarov of Azerbaijan, and the Ministers responsible for migration from the eight EU Member States participating in this partnership (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia) signed a Joint Declaration establishing a framework for future cooperation in the field of migration and mobility.

“The launch of this Mobility Partnership is yet another important step towards bringing European and Azerbaijani citizens closer. Thanks to dialogue and specific cooperation, we can better ensure the joint and responsible management of migration in the interests of the Union, Azerbaijan and the migrants themselves,” commented Commissioner Malmström, speaking in the margins of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels.

The EU-Azerbaijan Mobility Partnership establishes a set of political objectives and identifies a number of areas in which further dialogue and cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan will continue in order to ensure that the movement of persons is managed as effectively as possible.

Measures will be launched to:

·         enhance Azerbaijan’s ability to manage legal and labour migration, including circular and temporary migration;

·         improve the way it deals with issues relating to asylum and the protection of refugees;

·         prevent and combat irregular migration, including smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings;

·         maximise the development impact of migration and mobility.

Azerbaijan and the EU began discussions on a Mobility Partnership in February 2012. Negotiations were finalised in autumn 2013.

Last week, the EU and Azerbaijan signed a Visa Facilitation Agreement, which makes it cheaper and faster for citizens of Azerbaijan to acquire short-stay visas allowing them to travel throughout the Schengen area.

The EU has signed Mobility Partnerships with Moldova in 2008, Georgia in 2009, Armenia in 2011 and with Morocco earlier this year. Negotiations with Tunisia were concluded on 13 November. The signature will take place shortly. Negotiations with a view to entering into similar agreements with Jordan have also begun.

Mobility Partnerships provide a flexible and non-legally binding framework for ensuring that the movement of people between the EU and a third country can be managed effectively. Together with the Visa Facilitation and Readmission agreements which are expected to enter into force in early 2014, it will be the key instrument in increasing the mobility of EU and Azerbaijan citizens in a well-managed and secure environment. They form part of the global migration approach developed by the EU in recent years.

In 2012, the number of Schengen visas applications in Azerbaijan reached 52,082 – a 34% rise compared to 2010. Germany received most applications (13,269), followed by France (9,553) and the Czech Republic (7,049).

According to Eurostat data on residence permits, in 2012 there were 22,469 Azerbaijani citizens residing in the EU. Almost half of them were residing in Germany (10,090), followed by France (2,828), the United Kingdom and the Netherlands (2,000).

Source: enpi-info.eu

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