Some 45 million Ukrainian citizens may soon be able to travel to the European Union without a visa, according to a proposal to be tabled by the European Commission this month.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker promised Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in March that the EU executive would put forward the eagerly awaited proposal in April. Visa-free travel for Ukrainians is the most tangible benefit of closer ties at a time when a free trade deal has not yet borne fruit for their economy.
The proposal must be approved by a qualified majority of EU member states and by the European Parliament to take effect.
According to Reuters, the source said the Commission would include some form of safeguard enabling EU countries to reinstate visas temporarily in case of a surge of migration.
The Commission’s proposal to extend visa-free travel to Ukrainians, however, will probably be met by opposition from the Dutch, who voted by 61% in a non-binding referendum called by Eurosceptics to reject the association agreement on closer political, security and trade ties between Kiev and the 28-nation bloc.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the government could not proceed with ratification of the deal which the other 27 EU countries have already approved, and which has provisionally entered into force. The EU Commission said it was up to Dutch leaders to reflect on the vote and suggest a way forward, reported Reuters.