The European Union has signed off on the elimination of visas for Colombians who want to visit countries belonging to the open-border Schengen pact. The deal will now be sent to each member state for ratification.
The elimination of the visa requirements has long been asked for by the Colombians who now have to go through a lengthy administrative process before being able to visit countries like France and Spain where many have family.
Once the member states ratify the deal between the EU, Peru and Colombia, citizens from the South American countries can travel to Europe freely and will get a 90-day tourist visa on arrival, exactly like European visitors to Colombia.
“This is a historic day for Colombia and Peru,” said Colombian President Santos after signing the treaty in the Belgian capital of Brussels where the European Commission offices are.
While the signing of the pact may be historic, it does not imply Colombians are able to begin traveling to Europe.
First, the deal will have to be translated into the dozens of languages of the 26 Schengen countries after which each country’s parliament has to individually ratify the pact.
According to Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this process can last months, and it is unlikely the visa exemption will take force before the last quarter of the year.
The Schengen countries include most mainland countries in Europe with the exception of Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The visa will also not be valid for visits to the United Kingdom or Iceland.