The process of securing visa-free privileges for Taiwanese tourists traveling to the EU is “going smoothly” and the measure might be implemented soon, Minister of Foreign Affairs MOFA) Timothy Yang (楊進添) said yesterday.
“The visa-exemption treatment could be provided by the end of this year if approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union,” Yang told the press during a sightseeing tour in Taitung County with foreign ambassadors to Taiwan.
“I am cautiously optimistic about the matter, which has been proceeding smoothly,” he said.
According to ministry Deputy Spokesman James Chang (章計平), the past months have seen “positive progress” on the case.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, submitted a proposal in July suggesting that the EU include Taiwan on its Schengen visa-free privilege list. The case was discussed at the Council of the EU’s Visa Working Group and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament last month.
He added that the Council of the European Commission and the European Parliament are slated to hold meetings either this month or next month to screen and vote on the matter.
The Schengen Area comprises the territories of 25 European countries, which include 22 EU member states and three-non EU states — Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
The visa-waiver program is also applicable to three non-Schengen EU member states — Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus.
The Schengen Area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes, with border controls for those traveling in and out of the area, but with no internal border controls.
Meanwhile, the ministry yesterday said the Republic of the Fiji Islands has granted visa-free privileges to Taiwanese passport holders, effective immediately.
The ministry said in a statement that Taiwanese citizens with hotel reservations in Fiji and onward air tickets will be eligible for visa-free entry, entitling them to stay for up to four months.
The ministry said the decision by the Fijian government is expected to encourage more Taiwanese tourists to go to the South Pacific country.
The visa-free privileges are also expected to enhance business exchanges between Taiwan and Fiji, according to the ministry.
Ministry statistics show that about 2,000 Taiwanese tourists visit Fiji each year.
So far, a total of 33 countries, including New Zealand, Ireland, Britain, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, have granted visa-free privileges to Taiwanese tourists, the ministry said.