EU eyes visa-free travel for Taiwan visitors

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The Independent Online

The European Commission proposed Monday to grant Taiwan passport holders the right to visit European Union countries without a visa for short trips.

Taiwanese visitors would no longer need a short-term visa for trips of up to 90 days under the recommendation, which must be approved by the European parliament and EU states to come into force.

"Today's proposal will enhance EU relations with Taiwan," said European home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem.

"It will contribute towards strengthening our trade and investment relations as well as people-to-people contacts," she said, noting that the EU was Taiwan's fourth largest trading partner and its first foreign direct investor.

The move follows similar decisions made by EU members Britain and Ireland, the commission said.

The visa waiver would allow Taiwanese passport holders to move freely across the European Union as well as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, non-EU countries that are part of the passport-free Schengen travel zone.

The commission said it decided to make the recommendation because Taiwan met the requirements for the security of travel documents, including the introduction of biometric passports in 2008.

The EU said Taiwan must reciprocate the move, however, by waiving visa requirements for nationals of EU members Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. Citizens from the 24 other EU nations can already travel to Taiwan without a visa.