European Union visa-free travel for Ukrainians is closer, according to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

The commissioner issued a statement after the December 19 meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council on December 19.  She said: “On visas: another issue that I know is very much close to the Ukrainian population and authorities’ hearts. The Council and European Parliament have agreed on the revised suspension mechanism. This paves the way for final procedural steps, which will enable visa liberalisation for Ukraine soon”.

In turn, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze said the EU had once again confirmed that the Ukrainian side had fulfilled all its obligations.

The Council was chaired by Mogherini. The Ukrainian delegation was led First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Stepan Kubiv, who was accompanied by other government officials.

In other related news, the Netherlands appears closer to ratifying the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, after the amendments requested by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, were accepted by the other 27 EU member states last week. The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area has been provisionally applied since January 2016 and has already increased the trade volume between the EU and Ukraine by 7.5% in the period October 2015-September 2016 compared to the previous year.

In terms of recent developments, the Association Council welcomed the signing of the financing agreement for Public Administration Reform (PAR) programme, a €104m contribution to support policy development, civil service and human resource management.

Furthermore, the announcement of the PRAVO programme of €52.5m adds up to the support of rule of law in Ukraine, namely via judiciary and law enforcement.

The meeting concluded with the signing of financing agreements for four Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) programmes in which Ukraine participates and of five agreements between Ukraine and the European Investment Bank (EIB), underlining the importance of further successful cooperation in line with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ukraine and the EIB.