The European Parliament (EP) has upheld the European Commission’s decision to grant Ukraine a visa-free regime, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
The vote took place as part of an EP plenary meeting in Strasbourg on April 6. Some 521 MEPs voted in favor of the decision, 75 were against, and 36 abstained. As is known, the European Commission proposed removing Ukraine from Annex II of legislative act No. 539/2001 with a list of countries whose citizens must have visas to cross the external border and including Ukraine in a list of the countries exempt from these requirements.
After the vote in the European Parliament, the decision must be endorsed at a meeting of the Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the European Union (COREPER) with subsequent approval by the Council of the European Union. The EU Ambassadors are scheduled to vote on April 26, according to RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels Rikard Jozwiak.
The European parliament has voted in favour of visa lib for #Ukraine. 521 For 75 against 36 abstentions. Eu ambassadors to vote on 26 April
— Rikard Jozwiak (@RikardJozwiak) 6 апреля 2017 г.
The document should be signed by the EP President and Council representatives. Then the Official Journal of the European Union will publish it for the decision to become effective 20 days later. Ukraine has “even gone beyond expectations” in fulfilling obligations toward visa liberalization with the European Union, Michal Boni, a Polish member of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), said during EP debates on visa waivers for Ukraine on Wednesday, April 5.
“Ukraine has achieved all the benchmark criteria set out by the EU and has even gone beyond expectations in terms of sustainable reforms,” said Boni, who was authorized to address the plenary by a rapporteur on Ukrainian issue, MEP Mariya Gabriel.
Under the new law, Ukrainians who hold a biometric passport will be able to enter the EU without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for tourism, to visit relatives or friends, or for business purposes, but not to work, the EP said.
The exemption applies to all EU countries, except Ireland and the UK, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Before exempting Ukrainians from visa requirements, the EU strengthened the visa waiver suspension mechanism, to allow visas to be reintroduced more easily in exceptional cases.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said that a positive vote in the European Parliament on granting the visa-free regime for Ukrainians by the European Union still does not mean the abolition of visas, but the Ukrainian authorities are working to ensure that the final introduction of the visa-free travel is not postponed to a later date, Joinfo.com reports with reference to Interfax-Ukraine.
“I want to emphasize that this doesn’t yet mean the opening of the border. We are still waiting for a decision of the EU Council, we are working hard so that no one postpones it or drags out this process,” Poroshenko told journalists on the sidelines of the 10th Kyiv Security Forum, which takes place in Kyiv on Thursday.
According to him, “pro-Putin representatives” in the European Union are trying to prevent Ukraine from receiving the visa-free regime and the latest debate in the European Parliament confirmed this.
“Only the joint work of all political forces within the state and beyond gives us a firm belief that everything will be fine,” the Ukrainian president said.
Poroshenko also believes that the presidential elections in France cannot affect the process of granting the visa-free regime to Ukrainians.
Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Valeria Gontareva has announced her resignation, while the NBU has said she continues performing her duties, Joinfo.com reports with reference to UNIAN.
Answering a question about her resignation from a journalist amid a protest rally outside her house broadcast live by Channel 112 Ukraine on the morning of April 6, she confirmed and said: “Yes.” In her words, it is the Ukrainian president who will appoint her successor. “I’m only to tender my resignation. I’m not supposed to appoint anyone to my position,” she said.
Gontareva said she did not feel ashamed of the reforms she has conducted in the country. She also advised that international experts’ opinions should be taken into account. The press service of the National Bank of Ukraine said in turn that Gontareva had not tendered her resignation yet, she was at work, performing her duties. “While talking to journalists this morning, she once again confirmed her intention to later leave the post of the NBU head,” a spokesperson explained. A decision on the dismissal of the country’s chief banker is taken by the president of Ukraine, and the Verkhovna Rada approves it, it added.