EU moves to lift visa rules for travelers from Qatar, Kuwait

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union moved Wednesday to lift visa requirements for people from Qatar and Kuwait to make it easier for them to enter many European countries for stays of up to 90 days.

The EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, said it recommended allowing people from the two Mideast countries who hold biometric passports to enter without visas for short stays.

The proposal would apply to business, tourist and family-related travel and grant visa-free access to all EU member counteries except Ireland, as well as entry to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

EU lawmakers and member countries must first endorse the commission’s plan, and then an agreement would be drawn up with Qatar and Kuwait.

The European Commission said the two countries present a low risk of allowing unauthorized migrants to enter Europe. Kuwait and Qatar “are also important economic partners for the Union, in particular in the area of energy,” it said.

The EU has been talking to Qatar in recent months about ensuring gas supplies as concern mounted that Russia might cut supplies to Europe.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said the bloc “will continue engaging with the remaining visa-required Gulf countries that are interested in visa-free travel to the EU.”

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