Vanuatu, a small island nation located in the South Pacific, used to be on the list of countries whose citizens could travel to the Schengen area of Europe without a visa. However, in 2015, the Schengen visa-free access for Vanuatu was suspended due to concerns over the country’s passport sales program. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the suspension and what Vanuatu can do to restore visa-free access to the Schengen area.
The Reasons Behind the Suspension
The suspension of visa-free access for Vanuatu was due to concerns over the country’s citizenship by investment program. Vanuatu’s passport sales program allowed foreigners to obtain citizenship in exchange for a significant investment in the country. However, there were concerns that the program was not properly regulated, and that some individuals were using it to obtain Vanuatu passports for nefarious purposes, such as money laundering or tax evasion.
The European Union (EU) decided to suspend visa-free access for Vanuatu as a way to pressure the country to improve the regulation of its passport sales program. The suspension was also meant to send a message to other countries that may have similar programs, warning them that the EU would take action if they did not properly regulate them.
What Can Vanuatu Do to Restore Visa-Free Access?
To restore visa-free access to the Schengen area, Vanuatu needs to address the concerns that led to the suspension. This could involve improving the regulation of its citizenship by investment program, implementing stricter due diligence procedures for applicants, and ensuring that the program is not being used for illicit purposes.
Vanuatu could also work to improve its economic and political ties with European countries, which could help to increase trust and confidence in the country’s passport sales program. This could involve increasing trade relations, developing cultural exchanges, and building stronger diplomatic ties.
In addition, Vanuatu could consider seeking the assistance of international organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, to help improve the regulation of its passport sales program. These organizations could provide technical assistance and advice on best practices, which could help Vanuatu to meet EU standards and restore visa-free access to the Schengen area.
The suspension of visa-free access for Vanuatu was a significant blow to the country’s tourism industry and international reputation. To restore visa-free access to the Schengen area, Vanuatu needs to address the concerns that led to the suspension and improve the regulation of its citizenship by investment program. It is a complex issue, but by taking steps to strengthen its passport sales program, building stronger ties with European countries, and seeking assistance from international organizations, Vanuatu can work towards restoring visa-free access to the Schengen area and improving its global standing.