Grenada’s decision to approve legislation to combat electronic bills and to amend sections of the criminal code did not only result in the island remaining on the compliance list of the Financial Action Task Force, but also paved the way for Grenada to be among 19 countries added to the EU visa free travel list.
In December 2013 it was announced by Lithuanian Ambassador Raimundas Karoblis chair of COREPER II that the European Union had reached an agreement to allow visa free travel for citizens of Dominica, Grenada, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, as well as United Arab Emirates, Peru, and Colombia.
COREPER comprises the Permanent Representatives of the Member States that are ambassadors to the EU and their deputies. Owing to the large number of matters handled by COREPER, it is divided into two committees: COREPER I, which comprises the deputies of the ambassadors to the EU, and COREPER II, which comprises the ambassadors themselves and is therefore the more important of the two.
COREPER II normally concerns itself with the matters dealt with by the European Council as well as matters within the remit of the Councils for General Affairs and External Relations, Economic and Financial Affairs, and Justice and Home Affairs.
The visa-free access according Amb. Karoblis is based on the progress made by the countries concerned in implementing major reforms in areas such as the strengthening of the rule of law, combating of organised crime, corruption, and illegal migration, and improving of administrative capacity in border control and security of documents.
However, according to benefit from the visa-free travels, each of the 19 countries will still have to conclude a bilateral Visa Waiver Agreement with the European Union. Foreign Affairs Minister Nickolas Steele said Grenada has undertaken the relevant measures to conclude the visa waiver agreement and will soon get the final approval.
“I can confirm that Grenada’s Visa Waiver Agreement is already approved by the European Council and should be ratified by the European Parliament in February, following which both countries will sign it to bring it into effect,” he said on Saturday.
Steele explained that among the legislation which played a role in Grenada receiving the approval from the European Council, were the Electronic Bills; the Proceeds in Crime Legislation; the Anti Corruption Legislation, and others. “Even the recent amendments to the criminal codes which now includes offences such as trafficking of human beings, migrant smuggling, environmental crimes, piracy and hostage taking,” he said, while explaining that it will be a reciprocal agreement. These Bills were approved during the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.