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The European Union (EU) is pushing ahead with plans to allow citizens of Colomiba, Peru and the United Arab Emitates visa-free access to the 26 countries that make up the Schengen area, with final approval likely to be awarded next year.

The Civil Liberties Committee at the European Parliament on Monday voted to add the Colombia to a list of countries whose nationals will not need a visa if they wish to travel to most EU countries for a short stay of up to 90 days.

“MEPs also added the Colombia, Peru and the Arab Emirates to the positive list… A citizen of any of these countries would no longer require a visa for short stays (up to 90 days) in the Schengen area if s/he has a passport, whether for business, tourist or family-visit purposes,” a statement on the official European Parliament said.

“The text provides in return for the visa exemption to be reciprocated under visa-waiver agreements, enabling all EU citizens who wish to travel to these countries to do so without visas,” the statement added.

The Schengen Area is made up of 419 million people and covers an area of 4,312,099 square kilometres. Its member states include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania will join this year, while EU member states the UK and Ireland have opted out of joining.

The committee now has a mandate to start negotiations with the EU’s Council of Ministers and final approval decision will be made next year.

The proposal was tabled last year and was initially opposed by Austria, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands. However, Germany and The Netherlands subsequently reversed their stance.