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Over 31 million trips made in 10 years since visa liberalization with EU

During 10 years since the Moldovan citizens obtained the right to travel in the European Union countries without visas, over 31 million trips have been registered. In total, during this period, more than 2.1 million Moldovan citizens travelled to the EU without applying for a visa. The data were presented at a press conference organized by the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) and the Institute for Strategic Initiatives (IPIS). According to experts, visa-free travel has opened new opportunities for Moldova’s citizens, allowing them to explore Europe’s cultural diversity, visit relatives and friends settled in EU member states, as well as develop their knowledge and skills by participating in mobility and education programs, IPN reports.

“Against the current population of the Republic of Moldova, I believe that over 80% of citizens had this right and enjoyed this possibility,” said IPRE director Iulian Groza. According to him, the liberalization of the visa regime allowed citizens to save first of all time, but also financial sources.

“According to official data of the European Commission, the average time for issuing a visa is 15 days. Here we do not take into account the time that each of us had then to gather documents, receipts, certificates, to make an appointment. So, it took quite a lot of time to just submit the documents and many of us didn’t even know whether or not we were going to get a visa. Time cannot be estimated in money, but we have done calculations regarding expenses. An estimated 31 million trips for 2.1 million citizens would have meant at least 7 million visas. If we look at the price then and today – it is 35 euros the lowest. So, we saved at least €270 million,” explained Iulian Groza.

IPIS executive director Vadim Pistrinciuc said that April 28, when Moldova’s citizens obtained the right to travel to European Union countries without visas, deserves to be celebrated because it was a victory for everyone and it is a benefit. It is a benefit for the business community, whose representatives were able to move freely to establish economic relations. However, seeing their families again – going to EU countries and returning home – was the biggest gain for the citizens.

“There are generations that become accustomed to these benefits and do not understand their true value. But there were bad things – networks of traffickers who exported labor through mountains, through ravines, over lakes. Tens and hundreds of citizens were victims of these networks. Today these things are in the past. What does the visa-free regime mean for all the people of this country – it means connecting to the global economy, to the European economy. So, for a citizen of the Republic of Moldova it is very simple to go, see, study, explore the possibilities of selling their goods, establish connections,” said Vadim Pistrinciuc.

The liberalized visa regime with the EU was established on April 28, 2014, thus abolishing the short-term visa requirement for citizens of the Republic of Moldova, holders of biometric passports, traveling to the Schengen Area. This was possible by ensuring the implementation of the conditions stipulated in the Action Plan on visa liberalization offered to the Republic of Moldova on January 24, 2011, within the Republic of Moldova – EU Visa Liberalization Dialogue, launched on June 15, 2010.

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