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Three reports on visa liberalisation: Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo - Today, the European Commission adopted three reports on visa liberalisation.

18/12/2015

Commission Progress Report: Ukraine meets criteria for visa liberalisation

The Commission adopted today the sixth and last progress report on the implementation by Ukraine of its Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). The progress report highlights the significant headway made by Ukraine to meet the criteria for visa liberalisation.

Following the positive assessment of the progress report and taking into account the overall EU-Ukraine relations, the Commission will present in early 2016 a legislative proposal to the Council and the European Parliament to lift visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens holding a biometric passport - amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopouloswelcomed the enormous progress made by Ukraine: "I am very pleased that Ukrainian citizens with a biometric passport will soon be able to travel to the Schengen area for short stays without a visa. I congratulate the Ukrainian leadership on the progress made towards completing the reform process which will bring important benefits to the citizens of Ukraine in the future. The hard work towards achieving this significant goal has paid off. Now it is important to keep upholding all the standards. "

The progress achieved by Ukraine in the implementation of the second phase benchmarks has been noteworthy, in particular given the exceptional circumstances and the internal and external challenges the country faces. Based on the Commission's assessment, the commitments taken by the Ukrainian leadership, and 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 Visa Liberalisation Action Plan.

The visa-free travel will apply to all EU Member States, except for Ireland and UK, as well as the four Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). The exemption from visa requirement concerns only short-stays, up to 90 days in any 180-day period for business, touristic or family purposes.

The EU-Ukraine Visa Dialogue has been an important and effective tool for advancing far-reaching and difficult reforms in the Justice and Home Affairs area and beyond, impacting on areas such as the rule of law and justice reform. The progress achieved by Ukraine in all areas covered by the four blocks of the VLAP has been steady and effective. It demonstrates the commitment and constant efforts of the Ukrainian Government and all state institutions that have made the fulfilment of the VLAP benchmarks a top national priority.

Commission Progress Report: Georgia meets criteria for visa liberalisation

The Commission adopted today the fourth and last progress report on Georgia's implementation of the action plan on visa liberalisation (VLAP). The progress report highlights the significant headway made by Georgia to meet the criteria for visa liberalisation.

Following the positive assessment of the progress report and taking into account the overall EU-Georgia relations, the Commission will present in early 2016 a legislative proposal to the Council and the European Parliament to lift visa requirements for Georgian citizens holding a biometric passport - amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001.

Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "I am very pleased that Georgian citizens with a biometric passport will soon be able to travel to the Schengen area for short stays without a visa. The hard work of the Georgian authorities over the past three years towards achieving this important goal for the benefit of Georgian citizens has given positive results. Now it is important to keep upholding all standards."

The EU-Georgia Visa Dialogue has proved to be an important and particularly effective tool for advancing far-reaching and difficult reforms in the Justice and Home Affairs area and beyond, impacting on areas such as the rule of law and justice reform. Beyond the VLAP benchmarks, Georgia has taken further steps to reform the judiciary as well as the Prosecutor's Office.

The visa-free travel will apply to all EU Member States, except for Ireland and UK, as well as the four Schengen associated countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). The exemption from visa requirement concerns only short-stays, up to 90 days in any 180-day period for business, touristic or family purposes.

Based on the Commission's assessment, and given the outcome of the continuous monitoring and reporting carried out since the launch of the EU-Georgia Visa Liberalisation Dialogue in June 2012, the Commission considers that Georgia has made the necessary progress and undertaken all the required reforms to ensure effective and sustainable achievement of all the benchmarks set in the four blocks of the second phase of the VLAP. Georgia has taken the actions demanded by the recommendations of the third progress report to ensure effective and sustainable implementation of its legislative framework in the fields of migration management, asylum, anti-corruption, drugs, trafficking in human beings, money-laundering, law-enforcement cooperation, and citizens' rights.

Commission adopts final visa liberalisation report for Kosovo

The European Commission has today adopted the third, and final, report on Kosovo's progress in fulfilling the requirements of its visa liberalisation roadmap. Only eight outstanding requirements remain. As soon as Kosovo fulfils these last benchmarks and provided effective measures remain in place to prevent new migratory flows to the EU, the Commission will propose lifting the visa obligation for citizens of Kosovo.

Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "I am very pleased with the enormous progress that Kosovo has made since 2014 in fulfilling the requirements of the visa roadmap. I am confident that Kosovo will soon be in a position to fulfil all remaining requirements so that the Commission can propose lifting the visa obligation for Kosovo citizens. I hope this will be possible early in 2016 – that should be Kosovo's aim. Let us use the remaining period to do our utmost to prepare Kosovo for visa-free travel. I will visit Kosovo in early 2016 to personally take stock of Kosovo's progress in meeting the remaining eight benchmarks."

The Commission's report sets out four key priorities for Kosovo to focus on in the remaining period of the visa liberalisation dialogue: transferring a sufficient number of judges to courts' serious crime departments; building up a track record of investigations, court rulings and confiscations in serious organised crime and corruption cases; ensuring the operational independence of the Public Procurement Review Body and Public Procurement Regulatory Commission; and demonstrating that the legislation on name changes has been implemented.

The Commission will also monitor progress in Kosovo's ratification of the border/boundary agreement with Montenegro before the visa obligation is lifted for Kosovo citizens; in the disbursement of the Reintegration Fund; on addressing the reasons for the low recognition rate for asylum-seekers; and on providing appropriate premises for the ombudsperson.

The visa dialogue with Kosovo has proved to be an important and effective tool in advancing far-reaching and difficult reforms in the Justice and Home Affairs field and beyond, impacting areas such as the rule of law and criminal justice reform. Progress has been steady and effective, demonstrating Kosovo's commitment to fulfil the requirements of the visa roadmap as a matter of priority.

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