Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and Europian Union Ambassador to South Africa Marcas Cornaro during a media briefing in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Pretoria - Talks were ongoing regarding the relaxation or elimination of visa requirements for South Africans travelling to European Union (EU) member states, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced on Tuesday.

Gigaba said he held discussions with the ambassador of the EU to South Africa Marcus Cornaro regarding this matter.

He told a media briefing in Pretoria that he wanted reciprocity from these member states, because South Africa had already given them visa exemption when travelling to the country.

“We took a decision last year in South Africa that frequent travellers to our country will be given a three-year multi-entry visa.

“This is because if somebody is a frequent visitor to the country and spends their money in South Africa, they have not breached our immigration laws.

“They have not even overstayed on a single occasion, and such people should be able to enjoy the benefits and exemptions, incentives and rewards that recognise the positive contribution they have made to South African society,” Gigaba said.

He said they expected the EU to do the same.

Another topic discussed was work permits, looking to make it easier for South Africans who wanted to work in EU countries and providing critical skills to travel there and stay for a certain amount of time.

“Another area we looked at was data and information sharing.

“This is part of the reason why we asked the EU to make a presentation to us in terms of drafting our white paper.

“Drawing on their experiences, we shared with them their appreciation of South Africa’s new international law policy framework.”

Gigaba said the main interest was for all South African passport holders to have a full visa exemption when travelling to Europe.

The UK visa was exceptionally high for most South Africans at R10 000, Gigaba said, and ordinary citizens would directly benefit from the visa exemptions. “We are quite happy with the discussions we have had and the time-frames on when we can expect to get feedback.”

Cornaro said the discussions were constructive and he would make sure these topics were placed firmly on the agenda in the partnership the two entities have. His role as ambassador was to convey it to member states, he said.

The main aim would be to get all South African passport holders a visa exemption but they would first start with diplomats, officials and students before they expand it.

The time-frame for diplomats, officials and students getting visa exemptions is before the end of the year.

For the rest of the country, they are looking at March next year.

Pretoria News