Olena Zerkal: The European Commission adopted a report on Ukraine’s implementation of a plan for visa liberalization. The next stage is EU Council consideration and EU member states discussion of the issue


Kyiv, 19 December 2015.The European Commission adopted the report on Ukraine’s implementation of a plan for visa liberalization. This plan was developed for Ukraine in 2010. It consisted of two phases: legislation and implementation. Ukraine has fulfilled obligations on both of these phases. “We have moved to a different phase of dialogue with the European Union relating to the abolition of short-stay visas for citizens of Ukraine,” said Olena Zerkal, Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine for European Integration during a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. She added that the Report is final.

Ms. Zerkal noted that the Report was prepared on the basis of the results produced by expert missions that worked in Ukraine in September 2015. It contains a recommendation that the Commission should introduce to the European Council a proposal to abolish the requirement for Ukrainian citizens to obtain short-term visas if they are going to travel to Schengen countries.

The next step, according to Ms. Zerkal, is for the Commission to prepare a legislative proposal. This document is submitted for consideration to the Council Working Party on Eastern Europe and Central Asia (COEST), including ambassadors of all EU Member States. “In fact, the whole debate takes place in COEST. Objections, suggestions or points that need further explanation arise during these discussions,” explained Ms. Zerkal. Any country that has doubts about whether Ukraine can implement requirements that are significant for Europe, for example, ensuring border security, has the opportunity to raise their concerns. “Now we move onto another phase – communication not with the Commission but the EU Member States,” added Ms. Zerkal. According to her, the European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopulos determined the period of 3-7 months to complete all the necessary procedures. This term will depend whether EU member states should have additional questions to Ukraine.

The report also says that Ukraine will make every effort to establish the functioning of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the National Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption.

According to Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU, the work will also continue as part of the Subcommittee on Justice, Freedom and Security. However, its jurisdiction is broader and besides visa liberalization it includes cooperation in the legal sphere, human rights, migration and so on. Another platform for dialogue is regular Meetings of senior ranking officials (from Ukraine – Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice, the EU – Director General on Migration and Internal Affairs (DG HOME). «During these meetings we discuss what we have already achieved, where we are now, what help we need,” explained Ms. Zerkal. As part of this communication, so-called ad hoc monitoring of Ukraine’s further progress is carried out.

The required documents for traveling are biometric passports, return ticket, and hotel reservation or invitation from the people you are going to stay with.