Negotiators for the European Parliament and European Union member states have reached a deal to allow Ukrainian citizens to enter the political bloc without a visa.
Ukrainian citizens who have biometric passports will be able to enter the EU for up to 90 days during any 180-day period, the parliament said in a statement on March 1. The entry is valid for business, tourism or family stays.
The deal will now have to be endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee and Parliament as a whole, before being formally approved by the Council of Ministers.
Parliament´s rapporteur, Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG) said “adopting the visa waiver for Ukrainian citizens is an important step forward towards reforming Ukrainian society by bringing people together, building bridges across borders. We at the European Parliament are convinced that Ukrainian citizens now deserve the right to travel freely to the EU. The time has come for the European Council to deliver results.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Twitter hailed the move as a “formal, but important step on the road.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said earlier this month that visa liberalization between the EU and Ukraine is expected to come into force this summer.
The deal still has to be endorsed by parliament as a whole and the EU states. Before granting this visa waiver, EU member states revised the visa waiver suspension mechanism to allow visas to be reintroduced more easily in exceptional cases. This revision was approved on Monday by the Council. The legislation will be signed by Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani and representatives of the Maltese Presidency of the Council on Wednesday 1 March and enter into force 20 days after it is published in the EU Official Journal.
The EU and Kiev began visa liberalisation negotiations in 2008. At the end of 2015, the European Commission concluded that Ukraine had made the necessary progress and had met all the benchmarks, despite the exceptional internal and external challenges it faced in recent years, and presented a proposal to grant its citizens visa-free access to the EU from April 2016.
The visa waiver will apply to all EU member states except Ireland and the United Kingdom. It does not confer a right to work in the EU.