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How it all began?
Ukraine and the European Union officially launched a dialogue on visa-free regime eight years ago. In December 2015, the EU at last acknowledged that our country has fulfilled the requirements of Action Plan on visa liberalization.
In April this year European Commission proposed to European Parliament and EU Council to abolish visas for Ukrainians. Thus, actually the countdown of the procedure had started.
After the European Parliament's Committee on September 26 voted in favor of the abolition of the EU visa regime, it was recommended to amend the EC Regulation No 539/2001 (the list of countries which nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those who are exempt from this requirement). According to the document, Ukraine will be introduced in the Amendment 2 of the regulation, which defines the list of countries to which the visa-free regime is applied.
In addition, the Committee supported the beginning of negotiations between the EU institutions. Now, in fact, this negotiation process goes, but apart from the abolition of visas is also discussed the mechanism of temporary suspension of the visa-free regime. And exactly this discussion is delaying the negotiation process on the abolition of visas for Ukrainians.
In the near future we will be waiting for the meeting of Committee of Permanent Representatives of EU member states, according to unofficial information, it could take place on 27 October. During it the diplomats have to discuss the issue of liberalization of visa regime with Ukraine.
After the talks the voting should be held in European Parliament, and then the proposal must be approved by the EU Council. If the EU Council approves the abolition of visas, EU regulations will be amended, then will be prepared the corresponding decree of the European Union, which will be published in Official Journal of the EU and after 20 days from the date of publication it comes into force.
In the European Parliament MPs vote on the principle of a simple majority, and in the Council - on the basis of a qualified majority (votes of at least 55% of the EU member states, which represent at least 65% of the population). The EU mission in Ukraine explained that in order to block the EU Council decision against it must vote at least four states in which a total of 35% of the population lives.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said that the European Parliament has a stable majority for the introduction of visa free regime with Ukraine.
When will be conducted the vote in the European Parliament, is still unknown. According to the agenda of the EP on its site, at the forthcoming session on October 24-26 MPs will consider the issue of granting Ukraine visa-free regime.
Who will be able to travel to Europe without a visa?
In case of cancellation of visas Ukrainian citizens who have biometric passports will be able to freely visit the EU countries.
Ukrainians will be able to enter EU territory without a visa for up to 90 days during each period of of 180 days.
Which countries Ukrainians would enter without a visa?
Cancellation of visas applies to all countries of the Schengen area, except Ireland and the UK. In addition, Ukrainians will be able to visit four countries outside of the EU: Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
It is important to remember that the abolition of the visa regime does not provide the right to work in the EU.
In addition, the EU warned that in the entrance to Schengen area special measures of customs control may be used, including the need to prove the availability of sufficient funds and purpose of the trip.
What are the forecasts concerning getting visa free regime?
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin said that Ukraine may get visa-free regime in October or November 2016. President Poroshenko announced a concrete date - November 24. On this day the summit Ukraine - European Union is planned. There is a high probability that all the necessary documents will be approved before November 24, but here we must remember that the decision itself enters into force only 20 days after publication in the Journal of the EU, therefore, Ukraine is likely to get visa free regime in mid-December.
"November 24 – it’s just the day of a decision, it does not mean that the next day we will get a visa-free regime, we may have to wait minimum 21 days or more to all the procedures of publication of the decision and its entry into force will begin to act. Or the exact date of visa free regime entering into force can be specified ", - the expert believes.
Meanwhile, according to unofficial information, the visa-free regime will start working on January 1, 2017.