12 Apr 2017, 56 mins ago

Following the approval of new EU emergency powers to suspend visa-free travel rights last December, the European Parliament endorsed an informal deal with the Council on Thursday for Ukrainian citizens to be exempt from EU short-stay visa requirements.

Although the legislation still needs to be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers, it was approved by 521 votes to 75 with 36 abstentions. It is therefore likely to enter into force in June, 20 days after it is published in the EU Official Journal. However any one wishing to rely on this should seek advice.

The new measure will give Ukrainians who hold a biometric passport, the ability to enter the EU without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for the following purposes:

  • Tourism;
  • To visit relatives or friends; or
  • For business purposes.

However, the new measure will not give Ukrainians the automatic right to work in the EU. 

The exemption applies to all EU countries, except:

  • Ireland;
  • UK;
  • Iceland;
  • Liechtenstein;
  • Norway; and
  • Switzerland.

The new powers allow either the Commission or a majority of EU states to suspend a country’s visa exemptions if there is a large increase in asylum requests.

Ukraine has achieved all the benchmarks, so the visa requirement should be lifted”, stated a representative for the proposal Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG), adding that the visa waiver will be “another very strong message that Ukraine is a key partner for the European Union in the Eastern Partnership”.

The EU strengthened the visa waiver suspension mechanism before exempting Ukrainians from visa requirements in order to allow visas to be reintroduced more easily in exceptional cases.