Saturday

20th Jan 2018

No EU visa waiver for Ukraine this year

  • Poroshenko (second from left) said "there's no black cat in a dark room" on visas (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Ukrainian people are unlikely to get an EU visa waiver by Christmas, despite pledges to the contrary and “optimism” by EU officials.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker made the boldest promise at a summit with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in Brussels on Thursday (24 November).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“The problem will be resolved before the end of the year”, he said.

Donald Tusk, the European Council head, said he was “optimistic” on the visa-free accord.

Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko said there would not be any hidden surprises and that mere “stylistic” details of the visa accord remained to be agreed. “There’s no black cat in a dark room,” he said.

The delay on the visa pact comes amid testing times in EU and Ukraine relations.

The future of an EU-Ukraine association and trade treaty is in doubt after a Dutch referendum in which people voted to scrap it.

The future of EU and US solidarity with Ukraine in its conflict with Russia is also in doubt after the US president-elect, Donald Trump, said he wanted to “normalise” ties with Moscow.

The visa irritant goes back to the pro-Western Orange Revolution in 2004, when Ukraine lifted visas for EU nationals in hope of reciprocity.

“Visa-liberalisation is a testimony to the rapprochement between Ukraine and the EU, Poroshenko said on Thursday.

French line

EU states, including France, last week publicly said that they still planned to lift visas, but behind the scenes, France has taken a hard line, causing delays.

The EU has bound itself to first “adopt” a new law on suspending visa-waivers, for instance, in the event of mass overstays.

France has said such a suspension should cover all passport holders of the waiver country in question, instead of some categories of travellers only.

Even if France’s line were adopted by member states and the EU parliament next week, the legal preparations and translations of the waiver suspension bill would take too long for it to be “adopted” by year-end, with a knock-on delay for Ukraine.

France’s position has prompted some EU diplomats to speculate that president Francois Hollande wanted to delay the visa deal until after French elections next year, in order not to give ammunition to anti-immigrant and anti-EU parties.

Juncker and Tusk dismissed that notion, however.

Juncker said he had spoken with Hollande and with German chancellor Angela Merkel by phone on Thursday morning and that they wanted to go ahead.

Tusk said France had been “very constructive” in recent days.

Poroshenko said he had also received personal assurances from Hollande.

He added that the EU was “under attack” by “populists, nationalists, and eurosceptics”, as well as by Russia, which supported anti-EU parties in member states.

Dutch problem

He underlined the importance of a solution to the Dutch referendum problem.

He said the EU association treaty was “a symbol of the new Ukraine, of the fight of our country for our European future”.

He noted that Thursday’s summit marked the third anniversary of Ukraine’s pro-Western Maidan revolution in 2013, which began when the former regime rejected the EU pact.

The Dutch government is considering adding a protocol to the treaty that would say, among other caveats, that Ukraine is not in line to join the EU or to get any more money.

Poroshenko said that “under no conditions” would he agree to “lower the ambitious character” of the original accord.

Tusk and Poroshenko said they had received assurances from the US president-elect on his future foreign policy.

Tusk said Trump’s comments on Russia, made by phone, were “calm” and “more promising” than some of the statements that he made during his campaign.

He said he expected EU diplomats to prolong economic sanctions on Russia before an EU summit in December.

Poroshenko said there was “strong bipartisan support” in the US to also uphold sanctions on Russia.

Georgia hope

The European Commission has said Georgia has also fulfilled conditions to get visa-free travel.

Georgian people have more hope than Ukrainians of a breakthrough by the end of the year.

Their visa-waiver can be put in place as soon as there is further “progress” on the waiver suspension bill instead of waiting for its full legal “adoption” of the bill, as in Ukraine’s case.

That progress could occur as early as next week, diplomat said, if member states and MEPs agree to the French conditions.

Little to celebrate at EU-Ukraine summit

EU leaders have pledged to uphold sanctions on Russia in the run-up to a summit this week, but the declaration comes amid multiplying uncertainties on future ties.

EU seeks to extend Morocco fish deal, despite legal opinion

An EU court advisor says an EU fish deal with Rabat should be scrapped due to the Morocco-annexed territory of the Western Sahara. The fisheries agreement is set to expire in July but the European Commission want to renew it.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap