EU to Grant Visa-free Travel to Ukraine’s Citizens Despite Dutch Referendum

Employment and Social Affairs

Despite the result of recent Dutch referendum, partly motivated by hostility to migration, this month the European Commission will propose to grant visa-free travel  to Ukraine’s citizens in order to enter the EU, Reuters writes.


“It may look as if we’re ignoring the Dutch voters, but we have to keep our word to Ukraine, which has met the conditions,” an anonymous source told Reuters.


In response to Ukraine’s recent anti-corruption reforms, Jean-Claude Juncker,  President of the EU Commission, and Petro Poroshenko ,Ukraine’s President agreed last month on a visa liberalization proposal for Ukrainian citizens.


The source also said to Reuters that the Commission would include some form of safeguard, so to enable EU countries to reinstate visas temporarily in case of a surge of migration.


During  the referendum held last week in The Netherlands and called by a Eurosceptic coalition to reject the association agreement on closer political, security and trade ties between Kiev and the 28-nation bloc,  more than 60 percent of Dutch citizens voted against ratifying an EU-Ukraine trade deal.


Although non-binding in theory, the referendum must be taken into account, as the turnout was just more than the 30 percent required for the result to be valid.


As a result of the referendum, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the ratification could not automatically proceed, even if it has been already approved by all others member states. The EU Commission replied that it is up to Dutch leaders to reflect on the vote and suggest a way forward.


For an insight into the Dutch Referendum, read “Dutch People’s Fears Defeat Peace and Stability for Ukraine.”


The proposal needs the approval of a qualified majority of EU member states and of the European Parliament to come into effect.


In Ukraine the results of the referendum has  shaken the pro-EU government, as Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced his resignation on Sunday.


“As of today my goals are broader: new electoral law, constitutional reform, judicial reform, Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO,” Yatsenyuk wrote on Twitter.


Besides Ukraine, the list of country impatiently awaiting visa-free travel includes Turkey, which is working to reach an agreement by late June if Ankara meets the many conditions, and Kosovo.


For more information on the the EU-Turkey relationship, read “A Turkish dilemma: should it stay, or should it go?

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