Honourable Ministers, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to sign these agreements on behalf of the Commission today.
These agreemeents will grant visa-free travel to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa and Vanuatu when travelling to the EU, as well as all EU citizens travelling to your countries for short stays of 90 days.
The Commission proposed in 2012 to exempt 16 Pacific and Caribbean countries from the visa requirement when travelling to the Schengen area, and your countries are part of the first group for which this visa waiver becomes a reality.
I am particularly glad that we can provisionally apply the agreement as from today.
This is something the Commission has proposed in order to let our citizens benefit quicker from the visa waiver.
That means that as from today, your citizens coming to the EU for tourism, business meetings, family visits or other reasons no longer need to apply for a visa, but can book their flights directly.
I trust these agreements will strongly contribute to strengthening trade relations, cultural exchange as well people-to-people contacts between Europe and the Caribbean and Pacific regions.
Thank you very much.