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Published in Stream:
Ukraine Live Day 669
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
European Commission Says Ukraine Has Met Requirements For Visa-Free Regime
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President Petro Poroshenko has announced that the European Commission has confirmed that Ukraine has met all criteria required to enter into a visa-free regime with the European Union:

The European Commission published it's Sixth Progress Report on the Implementation by Ukraine of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation today.

The report states that Ukraine has, in the Commission's view, achieved several "benchmarks" within four "block" categories:

1 - Document security, including biometrics

2 - Integrated border management, migration management and asylum

3 - Public order and security

4 - External relations on fundamental rights 

The report concludes:

The Commission considers that since then Ukraine has made the necessary progress and undertaken all the required reforms and commitments to ensure effective and sustainable achievement of the remaining benchmarks. All the measures identified in the fifth progress report have been addressed in order to ensure that the legislative and policy framework, the institutional and organisational principles, and the implementation of procedures throughout the four blocks comply with European and international standards. The Commission will continue to monitor the implementation of ongoing reforms, in fields such as, anti-corruption, trafficking in human beings and organised crime.

Based on this assessment and the commitments taken, and given the outcome of the continuous monitoring and reporting carried out since the launch of EU-Ukraine Visa Liberalisation Dialogue in October 2008, the Commission considers that Ukraine meets all the benchmarks set in respect of the four blocks of the second phase of the VLAP [Visa Liberalisation Action Plan]. Taking into account overall relations between the EU and Ukraine, the Commission will present, early 2016, a legislative proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001.

The Commission will continue actively to monitor Ukraine's continuous implementation of all benchmarks under the four blocks of the VLAP through the existing association structures and dialogues, and, if necessary, through ad hoc follow-up mechanisms. 

The visa-free regime will be amongst the most tangible of benefits to Ukrainians of the EU Association Agreement, demand for which was the initial cause of the EuroMaidan protests that toppled the government of Viktor Yanukovych after he suspended preparations for the Agreement in November, 2013.

The passage of bills required to pass the aforementioned benchmarks was not without difficulty.  

It was only in November this year that the Verkhovna Rada finally succeeded in passing all of the requisite legislation in the so-called visa-free package. Perhaps the most contentious element of the package was the introduction of amendments to the Labour Code which forbade discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.  

-- Pierre Vaux