EU grants Taiwan visa-free travel

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The Independent Travel

The European Union agreed Thursday to lift visa requirements for visitors from Taiwan even though the 27-nation bloc does not recognise it as a sovereign state.

Taiwanese travellers will no longer need a short-term visa for trips of up to 90 days under the arrangement, which is expected to come into force by the end of the year, the EU said in a statement.

The visa waiver will allow Taiwan passport holders to move freely across the passport-free Schengen travel zone, which includes 22 EU states plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.

The move follows similar decisions made by EU members Britain and Ireland last year.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, recommended waiving the visa rules in July because Taiwan met requirements for the security of travel documents, including the introduction of biometric passports in 2008.

The EU agreed to lift the visa requirements after Taiwan granted in November the same rights to Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, the only Schengen area countries that still had to apply for visas to visit Taiwan.

"The visa waiver is implemented despite the fact that the EU does not recognise Taiwan as a sovereign state and has no diplomatic or formal relations with Taiwan," the EU statement said.

The EU recognises Beijing as the government of China, which has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949 when ousted nationalists fled to the island as communists rose to power.

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