Visa liberalization dialogue between Ukraine and the EU was launched on 29 October 2008 in Brussels following the decision of Ukraine-EU Paris Summit (9 September 2008).
On 22 November 2010 in Brussels at Ukraine-EU Summit, the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation was presented to Ukraine, envisaging not abstract discussions but a targeted and substantial work with a clear view to introduce the visa free regime for short-term travels of Ukrainian citizens to the EU.
The Action Plan was elaborated by the European Commission taking into consideration positive and efficient experience of similar “road maps” for Balkan countries. As a result of implementation of those “road maps,” a visa-free regime for short-term stay in the EU was introduced for the citizens of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following Ukraine, the Action Plans on Visa Liberalisation were granted to Moldova and Georgia.
The Action Plan covers four blocks of visa-free dialogue: 1) document security, including biometrics; 2) illegal migration, including readmission; 3) public order and security; and 4) external relations and fundamental rights.
The Action Plan, inter alia, provides for introduction of biometric data, withdrawal of passports that do not meet ICAO requirements from circulation, strengthening of measures aimed at the fight against illegal migration, improvement of border management, approximation of asylum legislation to the international standards in this area, deepening of international legal co-operation in the field of combating organized crime, drug and human trafficking.
The document is implemented in 2 phases. During the first phase Ukraine had to provide for the adoption of necessary legislation and national programs in the fields covered by visa-free dialogue, and during the second phase it has to implement the adopted legislation.
On 27 May 2014 the European Commission published the Fourth Report on the implementation by Ukraine of the first phase of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation with the recommendation to move to the second phase.
On 23 June 2014 the EU Foreign Affairs Council adopted the decision on Ukraine’s moving to the second phase of the Action Plan.
On 8 May 2015 the European Commission published the Fifth Progress Report on the Implementation by Ukraine of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation, in which it noted the progress achieved and expressed its readiness to prepare the Report until the end of 2015, assessing the implementation of the tasks that have remained unresolved.
On 18 December 2015 the European Commission published the final Sixth Progress Report on the Implementation by Ukraine of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation, noting that based on the assessment and the commitments taken, and given the outcome of the continuous monitoring and reporting, the European Commission considers that Ukraine meets all the benchmarks set in respect of the four blocks of the VLAP. Besides, taking into account overall relations between Ukraine and the EU, the Commission will present, early 2016, a legislative proposal for the European Parliament and Council of the EU to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 of 15 March 2001 on the exclusion of Ukraine from the list of countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and transfer of Ukraine to the list of countries whose citizens (holders of biometric passports) are exempt from visa requirement for short-term travels (up to 90 days) to the Schengen area countries.
On 18 December 2015 European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said that after the European Commission’s relevant legislative proposal has been made, it will take, depending on the progress, from three to seven months for the European Parliament and Council of the EU to adopt their decision to amend the Regulation.
On April 20, 2016, the European Commission submitted a legislative proposal to amend Council Regulation (EU) № 539/2001 of 15.03.2001, which provides for the introduction of the EU visa-free regime for citizens of Ukraine for short-term (up to 90 days) trips to EU members and associate members of the Schengen Agreement.
On 28 February 2017, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the EU reached a political decision on visa liberalization for Ukraine by the European Union in the framework of relevant interinstitutional negotiations, the results of which was confirmed on 2 March 2017 at COREPER level and approved by EP LIBE on 9 March 2017.
On April 6, 2017, the European Parliament approved a legislative proposal on the liberalization of the EU visa regime for citizens of Ukraine. 521 MEPs voted in favor, 75 MEPs opposed and 36 abstained.
On May 17, 2017, during the official ceremony in the European Parliament in Strasbourg with the participation of President of Ukraine Poroshenko, President of the European Parliament Tajani and the representative of the Maltese Presidency in the EU Council K.Abela signed a legislative decision on visa liberalization for Ukraine that was officially published on May 22, 2017.
The visa-free regime between Ukraine and the EU came into force on June 11, 2017. Since the introduction of the right for visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine, this regime have been used by more than 3 million people.