EU votes to allow visa-free travel for Emiratis

Comes after the UAE exempted citizens of 13 European member states from requiring a pre-entry visa on arrival
European Union flags
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 28 Feb 2014 02:11 AM

The European Union
Council of Ministers has officially adopted new regulations allowing UAE
nationals to be exempt from visas when travelling to the Schengen zone.

According to the
amended regulation, nationals from 21 countries will now be exempt from the
visa requirement when crossing the EU’s external borders.

However, the
exemption will come into force only when bilateral agreements on visa waivers
between the EU and the countries concerned have been concluded in order to
ensure full reciprocity, the EU said in a statement.

It said it would
further assess the situation in Columbia and Peru before opening negotiations
on bilateral agreements on visa waivers.

The regulation was
recently amended to introduce a new safeguard clause allowing the temporary
reintroduction of the visa requirement in specific circumstances.

The new rules also
strengthened the “retaliation mechanism” in the case of a breach of reciprocity
by a third country, when a country reintroduces a visa requirement for
nationals of a particular or of several EU member states.

In March the UAE
exempted citizens of 13 European member states from requiring a pre-entry visa
to the UAE.

With citizens of
the other 15 European member states already being exempt, the announcement
meant that all citizens of the European Union holding an ordinary passport
would be allowed to enter the UAE without having to previously apply for a
visa.

At the time it was
hailed by Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai's Department of
Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), as “a very positive announcement from
the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and one which will have a significant
impact on the attractiveness of Dubai as a destination for tourists from the 13
countries included today in the exemption”.

“European
countries have traditionally featured prominently in our top 20 source markets
for visitors and the lifting of visa restrictions provides for easier travel
arrangements from across the continent,” he said.

“The news has been
received extremely positively here at ITB, both by our partners from the Dubai
tourism industry and from the European travel industry. Through our network of
offices across Europe we will use ruling to further promote Dubai's
attractiveness as a destination for both leisure and business.”

The Schenzen Area is made up of 419m people and covers an area of 4,312,099 sq km. Its member states include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania will join in the next few years, while EU member states the UK and Ireland have opted out of joining.

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