The Marshall Islands and the European Union signed a short-stay visa waiver agreement during a ceremony held on June 27 in Geneva, Switzerland. The agreement was signed by Marshall Islands Ambassador to the United Nations Amatlain Kabua, who helped initiate the first steps toward the agreement when she previously served as Ambassador to Fiji. Signing on behalf of the European Union was Ambassador Roderick Van Schreven.
The agreement provides for visa-free travel for European Union citizens when traveling to the Marshall Islands and for citizens of Marshall Islands when traveling to the European Union, for a maximum period of 90 days in any 180-day period.
During the ceremony, Kabua said the agreement “serves to strengthen relations, boost trade and tourism, and also addresses an important practical challenge. Although our tourism numbers are very small, we hope that this agreement will open doors for more EU citizens to visit our beautiful nation — and this sustainable tourism will also benefit our economic growth.”
For the Marshall Islands, the closest accredited European Union member state embassy is in Manila. Kabua said travel and coordination to obtain visas is both a major cost and time challenge, which is often a barrier to effective participation in multilateral events and meetings within the Schengen zone that encompasses 26 European nations. The Schengen zone mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy.
“This agreement will reduce the burden on time and resources within the government,” added Kabua. Concluding her remarks, Ambassador Kabua stated.
Read more about this in the July 8, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.