In a press release published on 27 April 2022, the EU Commission announced a proposal to eliminate visa requirements between EU countries and Qatar and Kuwait.
This means that if the proposal is approved by the European Parliament and the Council, there could be a visa waiver agreement between these territories, and Kuwait and Qatar citizens would no longer need a visa to travel to the European Union, except for Ireland, as well as the Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, and Liechtenstein).
The only requirement would be the possession of a valid biometric passport, as this is a pre-condition to obtain visa-free entry to the European Union. Only with this biometric passport, Kuwait and Qatar nationals would be able to enter and stay in the European Union for 90 days in a period of 180 days for tourism, business, or family purposes.
The EU Commission made this proposal in order to enhance the European Union’s ties with Gulf countries. “Our proposal to lift visa requirements for Qatari and Kuwaiti nationals is a first step to make it easier for people from the entire region to travel to the European Union”, said High Representative/Vice President, Josep Borrell. “The final objective is to ensure regional coherence and ultimately achieve visa free travel for all Gulf Cooperation Council countries. Together with our upcoming Joint Communication on the Gulf, this proposal will reinforce the overall partnership and strengthen the cooperation between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council.”
According to an assessment carried out by the Commission, Kuwait and Qatar do not represent high irregular migration risks and they often cooperate with the European Union to maintain security. They also have an important economic relationship with the European Union, especially in the area of energy.
“The proposal for visa exemption for Qatar and Kuwait nationals facilitates business travels, tourism and family visits to the EU. It is also a step towards stronger regional coherence in the Gulf region when it comes to visa regimes”, said Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson.
The European Union removed visa requirements to nationals of the United Arab Emirates in 2015. Now, over 60 countries in the world have the benefit of visa-free travel to countries in the European Union.
In regard to the case of Kuwait and Qatar, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “This is the result of the success of the governments of Qatar and Kuwait in achieving far-reaching reforms and reflects the increasing intensity and depth of EU relations with both countries. It is an important achievement for citizens in both regions, and I hope that the European Parliament and the Council will adopt our proposal swiftly.”
Nationals of countries under the visa-free regime who want to travel to the Schengen area will be subject to the EU Entry/Exit System (EES) as of second half of 2022 and to the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) as of May 2023. Work permits are not included in the benefit.