Sat, May 29, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Schengen visa-waiver likely this year: official

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan is likely to be granted visa-waiver status in the Schengen area by the end of this year at the earliest if all goes smoothly, a visiting European parliamentarian said in Taipei yesterday.

Simon Busuttil, spokesman for the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, which is responsible for the visa issue, made the remarks before wrapping up his five-day visit to Taiwan.

Busuttil said he was in touch with the European Commission before he came to Taiwan.

“My understanding based on the discussion I had with [the European Commission] is that they will come up with a recommendation for visa liberalization [for Taiwan] in a very short time. I would expect that to happen in the next few weeks, probably in June,” he said.

The procedure for the deliberation of requests for visa-waiver rights dictates that the recommendation be referred to the European Parliament for a vote, while the Council of Ministers is the co-decision maker in the case, he said.

“If nothing goes wrong, I think this [procedure will] be done by the end of this year,” Busuttil said, based on the past experiences of visa liberalization cases with other countries.

Busuttil was part of an eight-person parliamentary delegation led by Michael Gahler, chairman of the Delegation for Relations with the Pan-African Parliament, visiting Taiwan this week.

While there have been concerns that Taiwan’s resumption of executions last month after a five-year moratorium might weigh against its visa case, Busuttil and Gahler were optimistic that parliament would approve Taiwan’s request.

“On the technical level, we just need to make sure that you comply with technical requirements ... in terms of biometric passports ... politically, I don’t see any difficulty for parliament to say yes,” Busuttil said.

“I have no reason to believe that there could be political obstacle, at least at this stage. I cannot predict the future,” Gahler said. “In a democratic parliament, anyone could raise a political issue of whatever nature ... Be capital punishment, be something else ... But that’s normal practice.”

Both Busuttil and Gahler said there was no connection between the resumption of the death penalty and the visa case “in principle.”

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