EU Permanent Representatives in Brussels have agreed to add 19 countries to the EU visa-free list. It includes the United Arab Emirates, the first Arab country whose citizens will be able to travel to the 25 European countries in the visa-free Schengen area. UK and Ireland are not in the Schengen area.
The EU Council of ministers will now enter into negotiations with the European Parliament with a view to the final adoption of the decision early next year, noted a Lithuanian EU Presidency statement on Saturday.
"Our agreement is a significant step towards the future visa-free travel between the European Union and the 19 third countries. The Presidency strongly believe in the benefits of the visa-free travels and is very glad to have achieved the agreement among the Member States," said Lithuanian ambassador Raimundas Karoblis, chair of the EU Permanent Representatives Committee, in a statement.
Citizens of 16 Caribbean and Pacific countries - Dominica, Grenada, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Vanuatu - as well as United Arab Emirates, Peru and Colombia will be able to travel without visas once the decision is adopted by the EU Council and the European Parliament, noted the statement.
To benefit from the visa-free travels, each of the 19 countries will still have to conclude a bilateral Visa Waiver Agreement with the European Union