Brussels, 23 July 2012
Commission amends visa facilitation agreement for citizens of Ukraine
The European Commission signed an amended Visa Facilitation Agreement with Ukraine in Brussels today, further facilitating people-to-people contacts and strengthening ties between the citizens of Ukraine and the European Union.
"The amendments of the agreement with Ukraine will further facilitate people to people contacts and make it easier for ordinary Ukrainian citizens who want to travel to Europe. The changes will facilitate travelling for, amongst others, representatives of the civil society, NGOs and journalists", said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.
“It is a very positive signal to the people of Ukraine that despite the current difficulties in the overall EU-Ukraine relations, the EU is firmly committed to strengthening the people-to-people contacts between the citizens of EU and Ukraine.” Štefan Füle, European Commissioner with responsibility for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy said after signing the agreement.
The amendments to the current Visa Facilitation Agreement provides among other things for the extension of certain facilitations to additional categories of Ukrainian visa applicants, such as representatives of the civil society organisations or young persons who participate in events organised by non-profit organisations as well as for the improvement of existing facilitations for categories of applicants like journalists.
The Agreement will simplify the requirements for documents to be presented to prove the purpose of the journey for the following visa applicants:
With the exception of drivers, all those categories of applicants as well as persons aged 25 years or less participating in seminars, conferences, sports, cultural or educational events, organised by non-profit organisations will also enjoy a full waiving of the visa fee.
Moreover, multiple-entry visas valid for five years shall be issued to, in particular: bona fide journalists and business people. Multiple-entry visas valid for one year shall be issued to bona fide frequent travellers belonging to one of the other categories of applicants mentioned above as well as to students and post-graduate students; persons participating in scientific, cultural and artistic activities; participants in international sports events and persons accompanying them; and participants in official exchange programmes organised by twin cities.
In addition, the urgency fee is abolished for persons who submit last minute applications, but introduced, where the consulate applies a fast-track procedure on the request of the applicant, where the request is made because the applicant lives far away from the consulate.
The amending Agreement also provides for a visa waiver for holders of biometric service passports
Furthermore, the Agreement will introduce a legal framework for the cooperation of consulates with external service providers and the collection of service fees.
Finally, the Agreement will contain a provision on the maximum time period for obtaining an appointment.
Ukrainian citizens already enjoy the benefits of a visa facilitation agreement with the EU since 1 January 2008.
Visa facilitation agreements simplify and accelerate procedures and provide for easier access to multiple-entry visas of longer duration.
The amendments to the existing Agreement with Ukraine will improve the existing facilitations and extend them to more Ukraine citizens and present an additional step towards the goal of visa-free travel in due course.
After signature of the Agreement, the consent of the Parliament will be needed before the agreement is concluded. As a final step in the ratification procedure, the Council will decide on the adoption of the conclusion decision. Subsequently, the finalisation of the ratification procedure will be notified to Ukraine. The Agreement will enter into force on the first day of the second month following which the last Party notifies the other that its ratification procedures have been completed.
Cecilia Malmström's website:
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DG Home Affairs website http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/index_en.htm
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Štefan Füle's website: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/fule/index_en.htm