The Commission of the European Union has proposed the full suspension of the visa waiver agreement with Vanuatu due to golden passport systems risks.
The visa waiver agreement that the EU has with Vanuatu allows the latter’s citizens to travel to the EU without a visa for stays of up to 90 days on any 180-day period.
However, since continuous risks have been posed by Vanuatu’s investor citizenship regimes, the Commission proposed to fully suspend the visa waiver agreement with the country, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to the Commission, Vanuatu has operated investor citizenship schemes that present public policy as well as security risks for the Member States of the EU since May 2015.
It has been pointed out that, in particular, these schemes allow nationals of third countries who need a visa to easily obtain the nationality of a visa-free country, thus enabling them to avoid the Schengen visa procedure and gain visa-free access to the EU.
Such schemes have been concluded to risk the Member States, and therefore, the Commission wants to longer permit those that hold a passport of Vanuatu to enter the EU visa-free.
“The Commission assessed the investor citizenship schemes operated by Vanuatu and concluded that such schemes represent an increased risk to the internal security of the Member States. The assessment also concluded that Vanuatu’s investor citizenship schemes could allow third-country nationals to circumvent the Union short-stay visa procedure and the assessment of security and migratory risks it entails,” the statement of the Commission reads.
The Commission explains that in line with the EU visa policy, the next step would be to apply the suspension not only to holders of ordinary passports that have been issued from May 5, 2015, but also to all citizens of Vanuatu that hold ordinary, service, diplomatic, or special passport issued by Vanuatu.
The Council of the European Union is now expected to examine the proposal of the Commission and decide whether to suspend the application of the visa waiver agreement completely.
The EU and Vanuatu held a meeting earlier in May where both parties agreed to achieve a mutually satisfactory solution, and the Commission proposed to hold monthly technical meetings. Nonetheless, despite reminders sent by the Commission, Vanuatu failed to provide any information or follow-up contacts.
In September 2022, Vanuatu representatives said that the dialogue with the Commission would have to await the results of the elections and the formation of a new government, and since then, the country did not take any measures to remedy the situation.