This comes after the United Kingdom announced that GCC nationals will be allowed to enter the country visa-free beginning 2023.
The Council of the European Union said the move to negotiate such a mandate has been approved by the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper), with the presidency set to begin talks on the basis of this mandate, according to SchengenVisaInfo.com.
This covers Kuwaiti and Qatari nationals visiting the EU for up to 90 days in a 180-day period .
“The Council thus took the first step towards visa liberalisation with Kuwait and Qatar, which should apply after the conclusion of bilateral agreements with these countries, in particular, to ensure that full reciprocity of this exemption for EU citizens is maintained,” the statement of the Council stated.
The proposal to waive visa requirements for citizens of Kuwait and Qatar was made following a thorough analysis of irregular migration, economic benefits, public policy, security, and the union’s relations with both nations.
The agreements also aim to establish who is responsible for readmitting Kuwaiti and Qatari individuals that find themselves in abnormal circumstance, the statement added, underlining that the exemption should go into effect after the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which is expected to go into operation in 2023.
The EU Council emphasised in its negotiating mandate that special attention should be devoted to regional coherence, notably with a view to enhancing travel and people-to-people relations between the EU and the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, though the latest development only covers Kuwait and Qatar.
The commission released the proposal for visa liberalisation for citizens of Kuwait and Qatar on 27 April, claiming that the two nations had already satisfied the requirements at that time.
Following the announcement, both Gulf states praised the move, which aims to make legal systems easier for their nationals.
Visa-free travel to the UK
Starting next year, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, UAE, and Bahrain will move onto the UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme when it kicks off.
“This move means that Gulf states will be among the first countries in the world to benefit from ETAs and visa-free travel to the UK,” said the UK’s Home secretary Priti Patel.
“Our number one priority is the security of the UK border and by launching ETAs we can ensure that everyone wishing to travel to the UK has permission to do so in advance of travel and refuse those who pose a threat.”
In order to have a fully digital border by the end of 2025, a crucial component of the UK government’s plan is the brand-new ETA scheme. According to reports, it will mostly apply to travellers passing through the UK or those visiting for short periods of time who do not now require a visa or do not own another UK visa.