Still no end to Schengen?

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Colombians and Peruvians remain the only citizens from South America who require the Schengen visa to enter Europe. While the nationals of both countries welcomed last year’s vote in the European Parliament that the visa would be lifted in 2014, its seems – in the words of Spain’s President Mariano Rajoy – that “technical problems” still have to be overcome before Colombians and Peruvians can confidently pack their bags and board a plane to Europe.

When President Juan Manuel Santos visited Spain at the beginning of March, one of the main objectives was to explain the progress of the peace process with FARC to his Spanish counterpart and consolidate existing trade agreements between the Iberian Peninsula and Colombia. But the issue on the minds of many was the date of when Schengen might end.

During a press conference in Madrid, Rajoy stated that the Schengen visa could be lifted by June this year, and he emphasized his commitment to making it a reality. “I will try to make this happen.” The Spanish President also hinted that June would be a key month for the Schengen visa issue as delegates from the European Union will meet with representatives from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Even after the E.U-CELAC summit, June may seem too optimistic to think of visa free travel to Europe. Maybe, July 2015 is a safer bet.

The Schengen area is made up 22 of 28 E.U countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Greece.

Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, remain outside this European bloc, yet participate in the Schengen accord, allowing visa holders to visit their countries as tourists.

While Spain has shown political muscle on the Schengen issue, it is evident that despite all the good will in Europe from deliberations and voting in the European Parliament, certain “technical problems” still  can’t be overcome, especially when it comes to Colombians and Peruvians. So the wait for Schengen to end continues.

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