Brussels, 15 November 2013
Commission assesses the implementation of Visa Liberalisation Action Plans by Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia
Ahead of the Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius Summit on 28-29 November the Commission is issuing three progress reports on the implementation by Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia of their respective Visa Liberalisation Action Plans (VLAP).
Regarding the Republic of Moldova the Commission considers that it meets all the benchmarks set in the four blocks of the second phase of the VLAP. The reform of the Ministry of Interior has been completed, judicial cooperation in criminal matters with EU Member States and international police cooperation has been improved as well as cooperation with Ukraine in the area of border management. Taking into account overall relations between the EU and the Republic of Moldova, the Commission will therefore consider, immediately following the Vilnius Eastern Partnership Summit, presenting a legislative proposal to lift visa requirements for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport - amending EC Regulation 539/2001 - in accordance with the agreed methodology under the VLAP.
The assessment found that Ukraine has made substantial progress in all four blocks of the VLAP and in particular since the end of 2012, speeding up its implementation and adopting a number of substantial legislative packages in order to tackle the identified gaps. However, there are still some important first phase requirements to be met.
The first report on implementation of the Action Plan by Georgia concludes that Georgia has made very good progress during the first few months.
"I wish to congratulate the Moldovan authorities for their steadfast commitment and considerable efforts during the last three years. The progress achieved will pave the way for a Commission proposal aiming at allowing visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Moldovan citizens holding a biometric passport. This is very good news for citizens and a very tangible element towards a closer political association and economic integration with the EU. It is also an encouragement for other Eastern partners who seek to achieve the same goal", said Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs.
"I also wish to congratulate Ukraine and Georgia for their progress. Ukraine is very close to moving to the second, practical stage of the implementation of the Action Plan, and Georgia has made a very good progress during these first few months of the implementation of its Action Plan", Malmström added.
More details on the reports issued today
The Republic of Moldova has implemented the actions demanded by the recommendations of the 4th Visa Liberalisation Report (VLAP) report. It has successfully completed the reform of the Ministry of Interior, continued smooth judicial cooperation in criminal matters with EU Member States and international police cooperation, and put in place a solid framework for deepening the cooperation with Ukraine in the area of border management. The Moldovan authorities have made serious implementation efforts with regard to the Law on Ensuring Equality and the National Human Rights Action Plan, and the strengthening of the Ombudsman's office. Based on this assessment, and given the outcome of the continuous monitoring and reporting carried out since the launch of EU-Republic of Moldova Visa Dialogue in June 2010, the Commission considers that the Republic of Moldova meets all the benchmarks set in the VLAP.
Regarding Ukraine the Commission considers that substantial progress was made in the last two years, in particular as regards, the reformed data protection system, enhanced judicial cooperation in criminal matters and law enforcement cooperation, but also on trafficking in human beings. The legal framework was also laid for issuing biometric passports and anti-corruption provisions have been substantially modified as well. However, in these two areas some additional efforts are needed to complete the first phase benchmarks. In the field of asylum, some adjustments need to be made as well. Lastly, the legislative framework on anti-discrimination needs to be further strengthened to provide adequate legal protection against discrimination.
The Commission considers that Georgia has made very good progress in the implementation of the first phase Visa Liberalisation Action Plan benchmarks. The legislative and policy framework on document security, including biometrics, and integrated border management are at an advanced state of fulfilment. Georgia is also progressing well in the implementation of the benchmarks relating to migration management, asylum, public order and security, and external relations and fundamental rights.
The Commission will continue to actively monitor the continuous implementation by the Republic of Moldova of all benchmarks under the four blocks of the VLAP under the existing Partnership and Cooperation structures and dialogues, and, if necessary, through ad hoc follow-up mechanisms. The Commission will also continue to assist Ukraine and Georgia in implementing their VLAPs and it will report on future progress.
The enhanced mobility of citizens in a secure and well-managed environment is one of the core objectives of the Eastern Partnership. To this end, the EU carries out Visa Liberalisation Dialogues with interested partner countries.
The main tool of the dialogue is the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan which is tailor-made for each partner country and structured around four blocks concerning i) document security, including biometrics; ii) integrated border management, migration management, asylum; iii) public order and security; and iv) external relations and fundamental rights.
The Action plan contains two tiers of benchmarks: first phase benchmarks concerning the overall policy framework (legislation and institutions), which are to pave the way for the second phase benchmarks relating to effective and sustainable implementation of the relevant measures.
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