Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

EU presidency urged to back visa-free travel demand

theparliament.com - 1 February 2010

The Spanish EU presidency has been urged to back calls to make it easier for Taiwanese people to travel to the EU.

It comes after a group of Taiwanese legislators asked Spain to support visa-free privileges for Taiwanese visitors to the country.

The demand is backed by several MEPs, including British Tory deputy Charles Tannock, who heads parliament's Taiwan friendship group.

Citing the UK as an example, Taiwanese parliamentarian Lin Yu-fang said the number of Taiwanese visitors to the UK increased by 40 percent during the six months after Britain granted Taiwanese visitors visa-free entry in March last year.

He said the number of Taiwanese visitors to Spain - one of the most popular European countries among Taiwanese - would also see a large increase if the country were to grant Taiwanese visitors visa-free entry.

The number of Taiwanese visitors to Europe posted a continuous drop between 2005 and 2008, from 281,022 in 2005 to 225,023 in 2008, according to figures compiled by the Taiwan Ministry of the Interior.

The group of legislators representing the Taiwan and Spanish parliament friendship group, last week visited several Spanish policymakers during a four-day visit to the country.

The delegation also later visited Portugal.Spain is Taiwan's sixth-largest EU trade partner.

A Taiwanese official said, "It's a win-win situation. Member states stand to gain, not least economically, by relaxing the visa rules because such a move would generate a sizeable influx of visitors from Taiwan.

"And, of course, it will make travelling to Europe easier for Taiwanese people."