Historic day for Colombia and the EU
Good news finally came on Wednesday December 3, 2015 when the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos with help from the Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy accomplished a major breakthrough for Colombia and the EU. The result is that Colombian citizens will now be able to travel to the European Union without a Schengen visa. The European Council of Ministers approved the signing of an intergovernmental agreement with Colombia, alongside Pacific island-nations, on waiving short-stay visas. The visa-free regi
me affects 22 EU member states, as well as non-Schengen members Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. Colombian citizens will also be able to travel visa-free to non-EU members Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. It is important to note that the EU countries which do not participate in the free-travel Schengen-visa area include the United Kingdom and Ireland. This means that The United Kingdom, however, still maintains a visa policy for Colombians.
What does this mean?
To put it simply, Colombian nationals will now be allowed to travel to the Schengen countries without the need to apply for a visa for up to 90 days for business and/or leisure. However, travelers will still have to show required documents, proof that they intend to return, and have the adequate financial means to support themselves during their visit to the Schengen area.
What do we think?
After two years of negotiations this is an important and positive step in the relations of the EU and Colombia and it will bring great benefit to both. Eliminating the visa requirement is effectively an endorsement by the European Union that opening its borders to Colombia will not stoke crime and illegal immigration. Colombia is one largest Latin American countries whose citizens required a visa to visit mainland Europe. Countries whose citizens will still need to apply for a visa before traveling include Bolivia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. The lifting of Schengen will no doubt boost passenger traffic between Europe and Colombia and certain flagship flight carriers, have begun to introduce promotional fares. Spain, France, Germany and Italy, are among the favorite destinations for Colombians. President Santos expressed that Colombia is celebrating and that this is a step towards reclaiming Colombia’s dignity.
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