EU Parliament grants Moldovans visa-free travel across most of Europe

The European Parliament on Thursday approved visa-free travel across most of Europe for citizens of Moldova, marking a victory for the former Soviet republic's pro-European government.

The vote in Strasbourg clears the way for Moldovans with biometric passports — containing a chip with a photo and fingerprint data — to travel without visas across 26 European nations, the so-called Schengen area. It will take effect after approval by EU governments, which is expected.

Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca said the vpte gave his country "confidence in its ability to advance rapidly on the European path."

Moldova isn't an EU member state but is pursuing an association agreement with the EU, similar to the one offered to its neighbor Ukraine.