European Commission submits proposal for visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens

On April 20th, the official spokesperson for the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, stated in Brussels that the European Commission (EC) officially proposed the cancellation of the visa requirements for Ukraine, TASS reported.

“Today, the European Commission proposed a visa-free policy for Ukrainian citizens,” he said.

This proposal, which was submitted despite the results of the referendum in the Netherlands, must be approved by the majority of the EU member states and the European Parliament. According to Reuters, the document will contain a paragraph allowing the EU to reinstate the visa policy in case of an influx of migrants.

The referendum on the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine took place in the Netherlands on 6 April. On 12 April, results were announced.  Sixty-one percent of the electorate voted against the agreement. Slightly more than 38 percent voted in favor of it.

The average voter turnout was more than 32 percent. All EU members must ratify the Association Agreement.  The only country that has not completed the ratification process is the Netherlands. The Dutch Parliament approved the document in 2015; however, the issue was submitted for a referendum vote because there were an insufficient number of signatures to proceed. The voting is recommendatory in nature however, if it is recognized and the majority of the population vote against the Association Agreement, the Government must bring a proposal to Parliament to either refrain from ratifying the Agreement, or, despite the decision of the people, to proceed with the ratification.

In February, the Ukrainian Parliament passed the last three laws aimed at combating corruption which were necessary for Kiev to ensure compliance with the criteria to establish a vise-free regime with the EU. In the same month, Petro Poroshenko signed the laws, bringing them into effect.

Negotiations between Brussels and Kiev on visa liberalization began in October 2008. In May 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that visa facilitation for Kiev and Tbilisi from Brussels is not yet possible.

  Ukraine, EU, visa-free regime