European Commission evaluates Georgia's visa liberalization progress
BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 11
By Tamilla Mammadova – Trend:
Georgia meets visa liberalization requirements but needs to take immediate action in order to ensure continued progress in specific areas, Trend reports referring to the European Commission's report.
Apart from Georgia, the Commission has reported on the assessment of the fulfillment of the visa liberalization requirements by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Moldova and Ukraine.
“The Commission considers that all eight countries continue to fulfill the visa liberalization benchmarks, however further action – in some cases immediate – is required for a number of countries in specific areas to ensure continuous fulfillment of the benchmarks,” the report reads.
The factsheet reads that Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine are among those countries needing to take immediate action.
The Commission's report focuses on specific areas where further action is necessary to ensure the sustainability of the progress achieved; therefore, benchmarks with a stable implementation record are not covered.
The report notes that Georgia has been the main country of origin of asylum applicants among Eastern Partnership countries for the third year in a row, the commission noted.
The number of asylum applications lodged by Georgian nationals in the Schengen+ area has increased by 9 percent with 21,570 applications lodged in 2019 compared to 19,730 applications lodged in 2018, said the report.
Meanwhile, the asylum recognition rate decreased to 4.1 percent in 2019 (compared to 4.7 percent in 2018), while in the first quarter of 2020, a total of 3,795 asylum applications were received, which is 42 percent less than in the same period last year.
In 2018 and 2019, the number of refusals of entry for Georgian visitors in the Schengen zone increased by 17 percent (from 3,805 to 4,435), while the number of those found to be illegally staying increased by 26 percent (from 9,400 to 11,845).
As regards cooperation on readmission, the report says, the return rate has decreased to 52 percent in 2019 (compared to 65 percent in 2018), with 8,520 Georgian nationals effectively returned.
Despite the decrease in the return rate, good cooperation on readmission continued and should be maintained. said the commission.
"While concrete measures have been put in place to address irregular migration and crime-related challenges, further immediate action is needed to address these challenges, in particular, the increasing numbers of unfounded asylum applications”, the report reads.
The EU Commission also named several areas that need to be further addressed, including to strengthen operational cooperation to achieve and maintain a swift decrease in the number of unfounded asylum applications lodged by Georgian nationals in the Schengen+ area.
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