Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia/Photo: Government of Ethiopia

EU sanctions Ethiopia for not cooperating on deportation of citizens from Europe

For allegedly not cooperating in readmitting its citizens repatriated from Europe, the Council of European Union has announced temporary restrictions to the grant of visa to citizens of Ethiopia by Schengen member states.

Henceforth, member states will no longer waive requirements with regard to the evidence to be submitted by Ethiopian visa applicants, will not issue multiple entry visas and will not waive the visa fee for holders of diplomatic and service passports.

Furthermore, the standard visa-processing period has now been increased to 45 calendar days instead of 15.

Ethiopian nationals can now be issued only single-entry Schengen visas and they must submit all the required documents without any exemption when lodging their applications.

“This decision follows an assessment by the Commission, which concludes that cooperation by Ethiopia in the field of readmission of its nationals illegally staying in the EU is insufficient,” the Council said.

“There is a lack of response from the Ethiopian authorities with regard to readmission requests and difficulties persist with the issuance of emergency travel documents and with the organisation of both voluntary and non-voluntary return operations,” the statement added.

The visa restrictions are temporary even though they do not have a specific end date. Analysts say the punitive diplomatic measures could be removed, if in the assessment of the EU, Ethiopia improves its cooperation with member states by readily readmitting its citizens deported from Europe.

A third country is deemed cooperative if they readily issue emergency travel certificates to their citizens being deported by the member state. If a third country does not easily issue the travel papers, it’s considered uncooperative and the EU may decide to suspend the application of certain provisions of the visa code.

As regards Ethiopia, the Commission observed in particular a low return rate. Also, the number of travel documents issued by Ethiopia in response to member states’ readmission requests is low, which indicates a low level of cooperation.

Vivian Asamoah

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