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EU Council to consider visa-free regime for Ukraine in October — source

September 12, 13:19 UTC+3 BRUSSELS
The diplomatic source has also expressed doubt that the problem of lifting visa regime with Ukraine can be solved at the meeting in Luxembourg
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© AP Photo/Frank Augstein

BRUSSELS, September 12. /TASS/. The Council of the European Union is planning to again consider visa-free travel for Ukraine at a meeting in Luxembourg on October 13-14. However, there are still many problems preventing this problem from being solved, a diplomatic source in the one the EU member-countries told TASS on Monday.

"The issue of a visa-free regime for Ukraine as well as for Georgia, Kosovo and Turkey will be raised at the meeting of interior ministers in Luxembourg on October 13-14. Alas, many problems remain as far as Ukraine is concerned," he said.

He expressed doubt that the problem can be solved at the meeting in Luxembourg.

"I do not expect any practical decisions to be made in October," the diplomat said. "The EU is currently developing a mechanism for freezing the visa-free regime in the event of abuse on the part of third countries. I think it will be possible to conclude new visa-free travel agreements only after it comes into effect."

The diplomat mentioned "slow progress in the fight against corruption" and "rapid growth of violations of the EU immigration and labor legislation by Ukrainian citizens" registered over the past two years among the problems preventing the solution ot this problem. 

Visa liberalization dialogue hampered by growing violations of migrant laws by Ukrainian nationals

Dialogue on visa-free travel between the European Union and Ukraine is being held back by a dramatic growth in cases of violation of the European Union’s migration and labor laws by Ukrainian nationals. 

"A decision on visa liberalization for Ukraine is hampered not only by corruption problems. The real obstacle for the dialogue is a rapid growth of the number of violations of migration and labor laws in European Union member countries by Ukrainian citizens in the past two years," the source said.

"Starting from 2015, a number of European Union states register growth in both legal and illegal migration from Ukraine. Refugees from Ukraine account for a minor part of refugees - more than 1.8 million people - who have reached the European Union over this period but we are alarmed at the rapid growth in cases of violations of migration laws, such as the use of tourist and student entry visas for the purposes of illegal sojourn and employment," the diplomat added.

According to the diplomat, statistics by European Union countries on the number of Ukrainian citizens employed on the black labor market are "insufficient and incomplete." However, in his words, it is known that about 500,000 labor migrants from Ukraine were reported from Poland in the first six months of 2015 alone.

"Apart from that, we are receiving signals that Ukrainian media are indulging in direct propaganda of labor migration to the European Union. Thus, they discuss practices of obtaining jobs in the European Union by means of violating norms of the law, which causes serious concern and in no way promotes positive decisions on the visa matters," the source added. 

Visa-free travel won't be applicable to EU migration law breakers

Ukrainian nationals who have been caught violating migration laws of the European Union will not be able to use the visa-free travel regime when it comes into effect, a diplomatic source also stated.

"Ukrainian citizens should understand that information about violations of migration norms is stored in the Schengen database. Those who have been caught in such violations will not be able to enter the European Union even when Ukraine is granted visa-free travel regim."

According to the diplomats, visa cancelation for short-term trips the Council of the European Union is due to consider at a meeting in Luxembourg in mid-October "in no way means uncontrolled entry to the European Union."

"Visa cancelation does not mean cancelation of border control. Any citizens of Ukraine or any other third country enjoying visa-free travel who wants to enter the European Union must have a biometric passport, a valid insurance certificate and a certain sum of money necessary for sojourn in the European Union," the source emphasized.

"Passport details of each person entering the European Union are checked against the Schengen database which records all violations committed in the territory of the European Union. So, people caught in violating migration or labor laws in European countries may be denied entry right at a passport checkpoint at an airport or a border checkpoint."

According to Poland’s Center for Eastern Studies, Ukrainian nationals are typically employed in Poland as unskilled labor force in farming and in the services sector.

The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs discussed on September 5 the situation around visa liberalization for Ukrainian citizens but refrained from putting this matter for voting. The committee noted that it stands for easing visa issuance procedures for Ukraine but on condition of its implementation of all necessary requirements, as was done by Georgia and Kosovo.

On December 18, 2015, the European Commission said that the European Union should offer visa-free short-stay travel within the Schengen zone for citizens of Ukraine, Georgia, and Kosovo.

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