EUROPA – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – A first step towards Schengen visa exemption for Taiwanese passport holders

IP/10/884

Brussels, 5 July 2010

A first step towards Schengen visa exemption for Taiwanese passport holders

Today, the European Commission has proposed to add Taiwan to the list of countries and territories for whose citizens a short-term visa is not required. Taiwanese passport holders would no longer require a visa when travelling to the EU Member States for 90 days or less.

Today’s proposal will enhance EU relations with Taiwan. It will contribute towards strengthening our trade and investment relations as well as people-to-people contacts“, said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs. “The EU is Taiwan’s fourth largest trading partner and its first foreign direct investor. Easier travel conditions for Taiwanese businessmen would also facilitate Taiwanese investments in what is already the biggest single market in the world.”

The proposal adopted today, would amend Regulation 539/2001 governing the visa policy of the EU Member States by adding Taiwan to the list of third countries and territories for whose citizens a short-term visa is not required. This would exempt Taiwanese passport holders willing to travel to the EU Member States for short stays (up to 90 days) from the visa obligation.

Currently, the Schengen area includes 22 EU member states and three associated States (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland). Once they enter the Schengen area, people can move freely from one country to another. The visa waiver will also apply to Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus which are not yet members of the Schengen area.

Today’s decision is a result of the regular review process carried out by the European Commission. Aligning Taiwan with other countries and territories which already enjoy visa exemption, such as Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong or South Korea, reinforces the coherence of the EU’s policy in the region. It also takes account of similar decisions already made by other countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland or New Zealand.

The decision is based on a thorough assessment of technical requirements that Taiwan had to meet, notably concerning the security of travel documents. The introduction of biometric passports since 2008 as well as improved personalisation process for the issuance of passports and ID have been carefully analysed by the European Commission and has had a positive impact on the decision.

Today’s decision is the first step towards visa exemption for Taiwanese passport holders. This decision will enter into force once it has been adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

The visa waiver for citizens of Taiwan should be reciprocated by Taiwan. Taiwan has already expressed its political will to grant a full visa free regime to all EU citizens. Currently a visa is still required for the nationals of Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria.

For more information

Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/malmstrom/welcome/default_en.htm

Justice and Home Affairs Newsroom:

http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/news/intro/news_intro_en.htm