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EU Council’s temporary suspension of ‘certain elements’ of visa law for Ethiopian nationals hinges on gov’t cooperation, a diplomatic source reveals

(Photo: European Union (EU) Council)

Addis Abeba – The European Union (EU) Council’s recent decision “to temporarily suspend certain elements of the EU law that regulates the issuing of visas to Ethiopian nationals” may be rescinded if the Ethiopian government agrees to cooperate, according to a diplomatic source who spoke to Addis Standard. 

The new measures by the EU Council are expected to take effect on 01 June, 2024.

Under the new measures, EU member states will no longer be permitted “to waive requirements regarding the evidence to be submitted by Ethiopian visa applicants; to issue multiple entry visas; and to waive the visa fee for holders of diplomatic and service passports.”

Additionally, the standard visa processing period has been extended from 15 to 45 calendar days.

The EU cited “lack of response from the Ethiopian authorities” on readmission of nationals who are “illegally staying in the EU.” The suspension, which the EU said was made following “an assessment by the Commission,” is temporary, but there is no specific timeline for when it will be lifted.

A spokesperson from a EU member state embassy in Addis Abeba informed Addis Standard that the decision of the Council is not abrupt and follows years of negotiations. 

He emphasized a disparity in the Ethiopian government’s handling of repatriation as a key factor behind the decision.

The spokesperson pointed out that over the period spanning from 2019 to 2022, Ethiopia only facilitated the repatriation of 555 undocumented refugees residing in the EU, whereas the number stood at 330,000 from Saudi Arabia.

He further disclosed that, at present, EU member states are formally requesting the Ethiopian government to arrange for the repatriation of 45,000 undocumented Ethiopian refugees currently living within the EU.

The spokesperson also clarified that the suspension of “certain elements” of the EU’s visa provision is temporary and will be lifted upon compliance by the Ethiopian government with the EU’s requests.

In response to the EU’s decision, the Ethiopian government expressed its dismay, stating that the move came “at a time when both sides are closely working for the return of Ethiopians who have been denied legal permits to stay in the EU member states in a dignified, orderly, and safe manner.”

Furthermore, Ethiopia contested the decision, saying it “failed to take into consideration the painstaking process that takes place to establish the identities of nationalities” and that it “obstructs the ongoing practical steps in the implementation of the Agreement on Admission Procedures for the Return of Ethiopians from EU Member States.”

In response to what the spokesperson characterized as “inaccurate” media portrayals of the EU’s decision, he clarified that the decision does not constitute an impediment to foreign nationals entering the bloc.

To substantiate this point, the source pointed to the fact that the EU has issued over 3.4 million residence permits to foreign nationals in recent years. AS

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