The European Union's executive looked to put a long-running row over visa reciprocity with Brazil behind it on Friday, as it endorsed a deal on short-stay visa waivers, dpa reported
Since 2001, Brazilians have been free to visit the EU without a visa for up to three months at a time. Most EU residents hold the same right in Brazil, but not those coming from Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia and Malta - something the EU maintains is discriminatory.
The deal "will give reciprocal access to visa-free travel for all Brazilian and EU citizens ... Once the agreements are concluded, all EU citizens will be able to travel visa-free to Brazil, putting an end to the long-lasting non-reciprocity issue between Brazil and four EU member states," the European Commission said in a statement.
Under EU rules, the bloc's central institutions negotiate visa agreements on behalf of the entire EU, but member states that have pre-existing visa waiver deals with third countries are allowed to keep them.
That was the case with Brazil, which has visa waivers in place with 23 of the EU's 27 members, but not Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia and Malta, all of which joined the EU in 2004.
Since the quartet was not allowed to negotiate separate visa deals with Brazil following their EU accession, the bloc launched talks on an EU-Brazil visa waiver in 2008.
Those talks ended successfully in April. On Friday, the commission, the EU's executive, approved the outcome of the negotiations.
EU member states and Brazil will now have to give their formal approval to the two separate deals, one on diplomats and one on ordinary citizens, for them to come into law