Ukraine moves to 2nd phase of visa liberalisation process (28/05/2014)
The Commission adopted today, on May 27, its fourth progress report on the implementation by Ukraine of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). It concludes that Ukraine has put in place the necessary legislative, policy and institutional framework and meets the first-phase requirements of the visa dialogue. The second phase, where the Commission will be checking the implementation of all these rules, can therefore be launched.
This decision represents another important deliverable in the context of the package of support to Ukraine presented by the Commission on 5 March (IP/14/219).
President Barroso said: "The proposal to move to the second stage of the visa liberalisation action plan is first and foremost a recognition of the important legislative reforms adopted in the recent months. While important work still lies ahead, this is a very concrete sign to the Ukrainian authorities and citizens that with perseverance the benefits of a closer association with the EU are real and tangible to all."
"I am pleased with the results of our formal assessment and wish to congratulate the Ukrainian authorities for their sustained efforts aimed at obtaining a visa free regime with the EU. We can now move to the second phase. I am fully convinced that all the Ukrainian institutions will continue the hard work and I look forward to seeing the results in the form of a concrete and comprehensive implementation track record", said Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs.
Since the last Commission report in November 2013 (IP/13/1085), Ukraine has adopted laws in the fields of document security, asylum, anti-corruption, anti-discrimination and data protection, as well as other measures in order to address the identified gaps.
After analysing these reforms, including the last package of amendments adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament on 13 May and the Interpretation of the Supreme Specialised Court of Ukraine for Civil and Criminal Cases, the Commission concludes that Ukraine fulfils the remaining first-stage benchmarks in all the areas covered by the VLAP. As a result, the assessment of the benchmarks under the second phase of the VLAP can be launched.
The Commission stands ready to provide assistance on the implementation of the legislative, policy and institutional framework. It hopes that the necessary resources will be made available by Ukrainian authorities in order to ensure thorough implementation of all the rules, including on discrimination, where it expects the full completion of the reform of the protection framework.
This decision is inscribed in the broader context of the Commission's support package, of which facilitating mobility is indeed an important pillar (see MEMO/14/279) and represents yet another important deliverable in the context of the package of support to Ukraine presented by the Commission on 5 March (seeIP/14/219).
The enhanced mobility of citizens in a secure and well-managed environment is also one of the core objectives of the Eastern Partnership. To this end, the EU carries out Visa Liberalisation Dialogues with interested partner countries.
The main tool of the dialogue is the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan which is tailor-made for each partner country and structured around four blocks concerning i) document security, including biometrics; ii) integrated border management, migration management, asylum; iii) public order and security; and iv) external relations and fundamental rights.
The Action plan contains two tiers of benchmarks: first phase benchmarks concerning the overall policy framework (legislation and institutions), which are to pave the way for the second phase benchmarks relating to effective and sustainable implementation of the relevant measures.
The EU-Ukraine Visa Liberalisation Dialogue was launched on 29 October 2008 and the VLAP was presented to the Ukraine on 22 November 2010.
Today's progress report is the fourth of its kind.
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