Ukrainian and Moldovan journalists, civil society representatives, NGOs and young people will find it easier to get short-stay visas for trips to the EU thanks to visa deals backed by Parliament on Thursday.
Visa facilitation with Ukraine
The amended EU-Ukraine visa facilitation agreement simplifies requirements for documents proving the purpose of the journey for a wider category of applicants, including representatives of civil society organisations, journalists and their technical crews, members of professions participating in international exhibitions, conferences and seminars.
It abolishes a €70 visa fee for the same categories of individual, clarifies provisions on the duration of multiple-entry visas and includes an exemption from the visa requirement for short stays for Ukrainians who hold biometric passports issued to government officials.
In the debate in plenary, several MEPs voiced concerns over recent legislative developments in Ukraine which affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) fundamental rights. "There should be no deepening of the EU-Ukraine relationship as long as the legislation on ‘homosexual propaganda’ is still on the table in the Ukrainian Government and Parliament. We want to see advances towards progressive, serious improvements as regards LGBT rights, the rule of law and democracy in Ukraine before any more movements towards full liberalisation are made," said rapporteur Claude Moraes (S&D, UK).
According to Commission figures, the number of EU visas issued to Ukrainians rose by 33.8% between 2009 and 2011, with a large share of multiple-entry visas. EU citizens have been exempted from visa requirements when travelling to Ukraine since 2005.
Visa facilitation with Moldova
The documents to be presented regarding the purpose of the journey have been simplified for a wider category of Moldovan applicants, such as journalists and their technical crew, close relatives of EU citizens and participants in official EU cross-border cooperation programmes.
Some applicants will benefit from a full waiver of the visa fee: close relatives of EU citizens, crew accompanying journalists, young participants in seminars, conferences, sports, cultural or educational events, organised by NGOs, representatives of civil society, and participants in official EU cross-border cooperation programmes.
The amended agreement also simplifies the criteria for multiple-entry visas for spouses, children and parents visiting Moldovan citizens legally residing in the EU.
Moldovan citizens holding biometric service passports will be exempted from the visa requirement for short stays and will be allowed to enter, leave and transit through the territories of the EU member states without visas.