Ukraine’s foreign minister emphasized that none of the EU representatives at Tuesday’s summit in Kiev mentioned the recently reported possibility of removing the visa-free travel feature for Ukrainians, which is worrying for the nation.
I would like to draw attention to issues that were not raised at yesterday’s summit. “There were no public or private conversations about any mythical threats to visa-free travel, any failures of EU policy in Ukraine,” Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an online briefing.
The foreign minister went on to say that no threats have been made to Ukrainians’ visa-free travel nor EU cooperation and integration, TheSchengen.com reports.
Kuleba’s statement came on the heels of allegations that EU countries plan to end visa-free travel to many countries, including Ukraine.
According to Radio Free Europe, Germany, France and Italy are considering reintroducing visa requirements for Albanians, Moldavians, Serbs and Ukrainians, due to an increase in “unauthorized residence offenses”.
This document, dated September 27, further indicates that these citizens have committed numerous crimes, including illegal stay and unfounded asylum applications.
However, this is not the first time that Ukrainians have been the subject of debate for reluctance to travel without a visa, as in 2020 the European Union threatened to cancel visa-free travel in the country after the government decided to create a legally incompetent committee to select the jobs of the head of the specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office (Sabo).
Moreover, the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Center, a non-governmental organization, indicated that some members of the committee responsible for electing the new head of the agency do not have the required experience in anti-corruption issues.
In addition to canceling visa-free travel, the EU has also warned that it will take back 1.2 billion euros in promised aid to Ukraine. A $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund was also put at risk after the allegations were made.
Ukraine’s economic stability is backed by a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. It is expected to receive another 1.2 billion euros in aid from the European Union (in addition to continuing to enjoy visa-free travel there). The EU Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, Mate Macykas, stated that both organizations make their assistance conditional on the fight against corruption.
According to EUROSTAT, the EU statistics provider, 601,200 Ukrainians obtained their residence permits during 2020, with 81 percent or 488,900 of these visas issued by the Polish government. The data further reveals that the largest number of EU visas for 2020 were issued to Ukrainians.
The European Union and the Council of the European Union announced visa liberalization for Ukrainian citizens on May 11, 2017, allowing them to travel to any EU member state without being subject to visa requirements. Moreover, Ukrainians were given the right to travel to the EU for 90 days in any 180-day period.