A committee of the European Parliament has voted to end the need for Colombian nationals to obtain a short-term visa for travel within European Union (EU) member countries.
Colombia ‘s ambassador in Brussels, Rodrigo Rivera, said on Monday that the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament voted at the EU parliament house in Strasbourg by 48 votes to six (with one abstention) to allow Colombians to travel freely within the EU without needing to obtain a short-term visa.
The vote is a strong indication that the proposal will become effective, but the final decision lies with the EU Commission and the European Council, which is made up of the interior ministers from the EU’s member states.
The parliament first implemented the short-term visas requirement for Colombian citizens in 2001. Last August, Spanish President Mariano Rajoy promised Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos that he would lobby to reverse the requirement for Colombian and Peruvian nationals for short stays of less than three months.
Rajoy indicated that his efforts are linked to the free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia which came into force in August. He said during a phone conversation with President Santos that he hoped to see Colombia “join the group of Latin American countries that have free trade agreements and do not need visas.”
However, the vote to end the visa requirement was delayed earlier this month various Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) said that “more time was needed” to check that Colombia had “fulfilled the necessary requirements.” The Spanish MEP responded to the delay by saying that the argument about whether or not Colombia and Peru had completed the necessary requirements had already been won. Now the vote has been won too.