Following the adoption by the Council of the Commission proposal for visa liberalisation for Ukraine, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos made the following statement:
“One year ago, I was in Kiev to personally congratulate the Ukrainian government for the tremendous efforts they have made to implement the reforms set out under the visa liberalisation process. Today, I am pleased to see that we are reaching the end of the process and I welcome the Council's adoption of visa liberalisation for Ukraine – a final step towards visa-free travel to the Schengen area for Ukrainian citizens.
Today's decision is an acknowledgment of the successful and far-reaching reforms carried out by Ukraine, often in very challenging circumstances. From the very beginning, the Ukrainian authorities have demonstrated their full commitment to address the fight against corruption as a matter of priority and have carried out important reforms in the fields of border management and anti-discrimination. Ukraine has come a long way and today this is recognised and rewarded. Now it is important to sustain this progress. The European Union stands ready to continue providing support and assistance to the Ukrainian authorities in this endeavour.
Visa-free travel will bring important benefits for citizens on both sides. It will reinforce social, cultural and economic ties between the EU and Ukraine as well as strengthen people-to-people contacts.
Visa-free travel to the Schengen area will soon become a reality – it is an important and well-deserved moment for Ukraine and its citizens that will make our already close relations even stronger."
The visa-free regime will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal of the amendment to Regulation 539/2001. Once in force, Ukrainian citizens with biometric passports will no longer require visas when travelling for short stays of up to 90 days to all EU Member States except for Ireland and the UK, as well as the four Schengen associated countries.
On 29 October 2008, the Commission launched a dialogue on visa liberalisation with Ukraine with the aim of examining all the relevant conditions necessary for EU visa-free travel. On 18 December 2015, the Commission adopted its sixth and final progress report on the implementation by Ukraine of its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). In the Report the Commission concluded that Ukraine had implemented all the measures identified in the third progress report and that all the benchmarks of the VLAP had been met.
Following the positive assessment of the progress report and taking into account overall EU-Ukrainian relations, the Commission presented on 20 April 2016 a legislative proposal to lift visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens holding a biometric passport, by amending the Regulation on Visa requirements for nationals of Non-EU Member Countries. While it allows Ukrainian nationals who hold biometric passports to travel without a visa to the Schengen area for short stays up to 90 days, it should be clear that visa liberalisation does not give a right to work or reside in the EU.
President Juncker has been working closely with the Ukrainian government throughout the process to ensure that the necessary reforms were implemented and the legislative process in the Council and the Parliament progressed as swiftly as possible. On 28 February 2017, the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the Commission's proposal, which was then approved in the Plenary on 6 April and the Council today.
For More Information
Press Release: Ukraine's Sixth Progress Report on the implementation of the action plan on visa liberalisation
Press Release: European Commission proposes to lift visa obligations for citizens of Ukraine