EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

Visit of Stepan Kubiv, Ukrainian First Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development and Trade, to the EC, March 2017. (Copyright European Union; Source: EC – Audiovisual Service; Photo: Georges Boulougouris)

Last week the Council of the European Union finally adopted a regulation granting visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens. Thanks to the formal adoption by the bloc, Ukrainian holders of a biometric passport can travel to an EU country for up to 90 days out of any 180-day period for business, tourism or family purposes. And, although the new regulation will need the signature of the European Parliament to be adopted, last Thursday’s move represents the last act of a long, delicate story between Ukraine, the EU and Russia, as well as the fulfilment of a key promise from Brussels to cement ties with Kiev.

Background

Ukraine and the EU started conversation on a closer relationship and a possible visa-free regime in 2008, when 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. Between 2010 and 2012 the question gained momentum, with the signature of a Visa Facilitation Agreement, and the initialisation of a free trade and political association with Kiev. After a sudden stop following the EuroMaidan Revolution that ultimately caused the fall of Viktor Yanukovych’s filo-Russian government, dialogues between Brussels and Kiev intensified when President Petro Poroshenko rose to power.

On 18 December 2015, the Commission adopted its sixth and final progress report on the implementation by Ukraine of its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, and the following year, as reported by the European Sting, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk announced at the 18th EU-Ukraine Summit in Brussels that Ukraine had fulfilled all EU requirements for it to obtain a visa-free regime. On 20 April 2016 the Commission presented 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.

“Divorce” with Russia

Last Thursday’s act so represents the final step of a long and fragmented progress that eventually took Ukraine closer to the European Union and put a clear separation between Kiev and Moscow. Speaking to the Ukrainian 1+1 TV channel on Thursday night, Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko said that, after last week’s resolution, he believes Ukraine finally departs from Russia and “returns home” to Europe. “I would say that today Ukraine has finally drawn up its divorce with the Russian Empire and that’s the way we should philosophically perceive it”, he said. “It’s not just about visa-free border crossing, it’s about returning Ukraine to a historical place in the European family of nations,” Ukrainian president said. Mr. Poroschenko is expected to sign the legislative act on the visa-free regime in Strasbourg tomorrow.

Cemented ties

EU’s Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos also welcome last Thursday’s resolution, and declared: “Today’s decision is an acknowledgment of the successful and far-reaching reforms carried out by Ukraine, often in very challenging circumstances”. “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”, he added. “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”, he also said.

“The adoption of the regulation on visa liberalisation for Ukrainian citizens is an important development, which will help strengthen ties between the people of Ukraine and the EU”, was the comment of Carmelo Abela, Maltese Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. And indeed last week’s move is not intended to be an isolated act that will only impact the movement of people between countries, but surely a move that is part of a wider reform that will also have implications for business and trade. The path for newer economic reforms between Brussels and Kiev is already visible.

Business opportunities

Earlier this month The Committee on International Trade (INTA) of the European Parliament has backed a proposal to boost Ukraine agri-food market access. With a vote on May 4, by a count of 31 for, 4 against, with 3 abstentions, INTA approved the increase of the annual tariff rate quotas for imports of n 36 types of Ukrainian goods, mostly food, including, barley, tomatoes and urea. “The European Parliament strongly supports the ongoing reforms in Ukraine. By granting temporary trade preferences, we want to strengthen small and medium enterprises and provide the necessary impetus for increasing trade flows. These developments have not just economic but political value for Ukraine”, said Jaroslaw Walesa, Polish MEP, straight after the approval.

“The decision to increase quotas on Ukrainian agricultural products is important for us as it will expand our export opportunities,” Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Taras Kutovyi said in a statement. According to Mr. Kutovyi, the decision of the European Parliament to increase the tariff rate quotas for Ukrainian agricultural products would bring Ukraine an estimated 200 million USD in additional exports revenues. Last year, Ukraine’s agricultural exports to European Union countries increased by 1.6 percent to 4.2 billion dollars, as reported by Ukrainian new agency Interfax.

New path

Both last week’s adoption and the proposal by INTA will need the approval from the European Parliament to officially come into force. However, it seems that Ukraine is now officially on the path of substantial reform that will bring Kiev closer to Brussels, and so to the West, and that a season of stronger economic and social relations is ready to start. The visa-free regime will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal of the amendment to Regulation 539/2001. The EU is Ukraine’s largest trading partner, accounting for more than 40% of its trade in 2015. EU investors held investments worth around €16.4 bn in Ukraine in 2014.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Checks, fines, crisis reserve: MEPs vote on EU farm policy reform

US cities are going to keep getting hotter

Revolutionary technologies will drive African prosperity – this is why

AI is transforming cybercrime. Here’s how we can fight back

Transition between education and employment: how the internship culture is threatening the foundations of our education

Commission reinforces tools to ensure Europe’s interests in international trade

Arctic policy: EU opens consultation on the future approach

EU Parliament says ‘no’ to austerity budget

A question of trust: the UN political chief working behind the scenes to prevent tomorrow’s wars

EU plans to exploit the Mediterranean Sea and the wealth beneath it

‘Democratic aspirations of the Sudanese people’ must be met urges Guterres, following military removal of al-Bashir from power

UN nuclear watchdog will help verify DPRK nuclear programme, if agreement forthcoming

Terrorist content online should be removed within one hour, says EP

Robots, Artificial intelligence and Dentistry

Mental health problems costing Europe heavily

Switzerland to favour EU citizens in immigration quotas as the risk of a new referendum looms

How youth and technology can drive Africa’s COVID-19 response

State aid: Commission approves support for six offshore wind farms in France

An American duel in Brussels: Salesforce against Microsoft over Linkedin deal

Macron’s Presidency: what the young generation’s expectations are

Replacement for United States on Human Rights Council to be elected ‘as soon as possible’

EU approves disbursement of €500 million in Macro-Financial Assistance to Ukraine

EU and China discuss trade and economic relations

The cost of generating renewable energy has fallen – a lot

Coronavirus crisis: “Commission will use all the tools at its disposal to make sure the European economy weathers the storm”

Ecocraft: take gaming to another level by greening Minecraft

Coronavirus response: over €1 billion from EU Cohesion policy to support Spain’s recovery

UN condemns deadly attack one of its vehicles

Problems Faced by Young Doctors and What We Can Do About Them

We must learn and change after Haiti sexual abuse scandal -Oxfam chief

Mental health: privilege in coronavirus times

Cloud computing under scrutiny in the EU?

UN chief appeals for calm as Mali presidential election draws to a close

Approving most of EU’s accounts, EP requests new measures to protect EU spending

This Latin American country is keeping COVID-19 firmly under control. How?

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change and youth inaction: oblivion or nonchalance?”, AIESEC wonders from Brussels

New York and London mayors call on cities to divest from fossil fuels

Yemen conflict: ‘Fragile’ hopes rise, as violence decreases and life-saving humanitarian funding surges

Hiring more female leaders is good for profits. Here’s the evidence

How each country’s share of global CO2 emissions changes over time

An economist explains the pros and cons of globalization

UN celebrates books as ‘bridges across cultures’

New Disability Inclusion Strategy is ‘transformative change we need’, says Guterres

Is technology key to improving global health and education, or just an expensive distraction?

Coronavírus SUS – Brazil’s official app for clear communication

First-ever EU defence industry fund to finance joint development of capabilities

India is investing more money in solar power than coal for first time

7 ways the ‘biological century’ will transform healthcare

UN rights experts call on Philippines Government to halt ‘unacceptable attacks’ on Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

European Youth Capital 2019 announced: Novi Sad, Serbia

Plastic Oceans: MEPs back EU ban on polluting throwaway plastics by 2021

International trade statistics: trends in third quarter 2019

Manufacturing is finally entering a new era

In tech-driven 21st century, achieving global development goals requires closing digital gender divide

EU to spend €6 billion on youth employment and training futile schemes

Youth policy in Europe not delivering for young people

COVID-19: What to know about the coronavirus pandemic on 6 April

Make progress or risk redundancy, UN chief warns world disarmament body

Peacekeeping chief honours Tanzanian troops in Zanzibar, a year on from deadly DR Congo attacks

COVID-19: EU working on all fronts, €232 million for global efforts to tackle outbreak

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. Had to be done long time ago, without bending our arms behind our backs.
    Sorry.
    KievHandy

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s