x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

European Parliament panel backs visa-free travel for UAE nationals

The committee will vote on the report this month, after which it will go before the full European Parliament and Council of Ministers for approval by the middle of next year.

DUBAI // A panel in the European Parliament has recommended that visa restrictions should be lifted for UAE nationals wanting to travel to Europe.

The recommendations came in a report submitted to the parliament's committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs.

"There is no risk of illegal immigration," said the report author Mariya Gabriel to a meeting of the committee, the state news agency Wam reported.

"Trips made by UAE nationals to Europe are mainly for business, tourism, studies or health care."

The committee will vote on the report this month, after which it will go before the full European Parliament and Council of Ministers for approval by the middle of next year.

If approved, the UAE would become the first Arab country to enjoy visa-free travel to the EU.

The recommendations come as part of a move towards improving relations between the EU and the UAE.

In April, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, told the Belgian deputy prime minister, Pieter De Crem, that Emiratis should be granted visa-free access to the Schengen area, a group of 26 nations in Western Europe without visa borders.

"The most important aspect of mutual friendship is enhancing the ease of movement between our two countries," Sheikh Abdullah said during a visit to Belgium.

"Belgian citizens, along with most Europeans, are granted 30-day visas upon arrival to the UAE.

"The UAE is asking that its citizens be granted similar access to the countries of the Schengen area, in recognition of the excellent relations between the UAE and Europe and of the significant economic contribution of Emirati activities on the continent."

 

mcroucher@thenational.ae