Procedure : 2016/0125(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0274/2016

Texts tabled :

A8-0274/2016

Debates :

PV 05/04/2017 - 16
CRE 05/04/2017 - 16

Votes :

PV 06/04/2017 - 7.5
CRE 06/04/2017 - 7.5

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2017)0129

REPORT     ***I
PDF 474kWORD 52k
29 September 2016
PE 585.521v02-00 A8-0274/2016

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Ukraine)

(COM(2016)0236 – C8-0150/2016) – 2016/0125(COD))

Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Rapporteur: Mariya Gabriel

AMENDMENTS
DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
 OPINION of the Committee on Legal Affairs
 PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE
 FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Ukraine)

(COM(2016)0236 – C8-0150/2016) – 2016/0125(COD))

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0236),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 77(2)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0150/0216)),

–  having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0274/2016),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading, taking over the Commission proposal;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The proposal of the European Commission aims to amend Regulation No 539/2001 and to transfer Ukraine to Annex II, which establishes the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from the requirement to obtain visas in order to cross the external borders of the Member States. The legal basis for the proposal is point (a) of Article 77(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The implementation of the visa exemption for Ukrainian citizens who hold biometric passports is not subject to the conclusion of a visa waiver agreement with the EU, as Ukraine has already exempted all EU citizens from the visa requirement for stays of up to a year.

Since the launch of the visa liberalisation dialogue between the EU and Ukraine in October 2008, the Commission has issued six progress reports on the implementation of the visa liberalisation action plan that was proposed in November 2010. These reports highlight the significant and rapid progress made since 2014 and the opening of the second phase of the action plan, even in the exceptional context and despite the internal and external challenges facing the country. The last progress report of the Commission, adopted on 18 December 2015, concluded that Ukraine had made the necessary progress and had fulfilled all the benchmarks set in the action plan. The rapporteur welcomes the fact that the visa liberalisation dialogue has proved to be an effective tool with which to promote difficult and far-reaching reforms, particularly in the field of justice and internal affairs. The rapporteur also highlights the extremely positive cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities and civil society in the process of drawing up this report.

Visa liberalisation is one aspect of an increasingly close partnership between Ukraine and the European Union. Ukraine is a key partner country for the EU within the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership. The Association Agreement signed in June 2014 and its simultaneous ratification by the Verkhovna Rada and the European Parliament in September 2015 sent a strong signal and provided clear proof of the EU’s and Ukraine’s shared aspiration to achieve a substantive rapprochement on the basis of the principles of political association and economic integration. Waiving the visa obligation for Ukrainian citizens who hold biometric passports will represent a concrete achievement stemming from this shared aspiration and from the commitment shown by the Ukrainian people to peace, stability and a European and reformist direction for their country.

Furthermore, visa liberalisation will contribute to the deepening of people-to-people contacts. It will also make it possible to step up economic and cultural relations and intensify political dialogue on various issues, including human rights and fundamental freedoms. The rapporteur would also highlight the principle of reciprocity in visa liberalisation; this reciprocity means that European and Ukrainian citizens both benefit from the visa exemption. The visa exemption for short stays will also help to create new economic opportunities in the context of the provisional entry into force of the deep and comprehensive free-trade area, which is the economic component of the association agreement.

With regard to the political context, Ukraine has embarked on a far-reaching process of political and democratic change since the peaceful demonstrations on Maidan Square in November 2013 and the 2014 presidential and parliamentary elections. Ukraine now has an opportunity to modernise and develop a genuine democracy and guarantee the rule of law. The European Union stands at Ukraine’s side in this process, which requires constant and sustained efforts. The visa liberalisation action plan has made a significant contribution to this process, particularly in the fields of document security (including the issuing of biometric passports in compliance with the highest international standards and going beyond the minimum obligations set out in the action plan, and the launching of the visa information system), border control, the fight against corruption (with the setting-up of four key anti-corruption institutions), and the fight against organised crime and money laundering. In this connection, the rapporteur fully supports the signing of a strategic and operational cooperation agreement between Ukraine and Europol, which should come about very shortly. The rapporteur also stresses that, as in all cases involving transfers to Annex II of the amended regulation, the benchmarks that have been met in the visa liberalisation process must continue to be respected in the future. The progress made in the visa liberalisation dialogue would benefit from close monitoring as part of other dialogues under the association agreement, particularly as regards the fight against corruption, which should continue to be backed by a sufficient budget and firm political commitment.

The rapporteur has also taken account of mobility and the risks in terms of migration and security. She would point out that the current refusal rate for EU visas for Ukrainian citizens is below 2%. Moreover, the EU-Ukraine readmission agreement on the return of irregular migrants, signed in November 2007, is one of the most effective readmission agreements with a return rate of over 80%, demonstrating an excellent degree of cooperation in this area that makes it possible to mitigate migration risks. The rapporteur would encourage Ukraine to continue the process of connecting border points to the Interpol database, issuing biometric passports and carrying out an information campaign on rights and obligations linked to visa-free trips to the EU. The European Union and Ukraine should pay particular attention to human trafficking and possible abuse of the visa exemption scheme by the criminal networks involved.

Finally, the rapporteur believes that, by voting in favour of this Commission proposal, the European Parliament will be confirming the principle whereby every country that meets all the benchmarks can benefit from visa liberalisation, while pointing out that the criteria which led to this liberalisation must continue to be met after the decision has entered into force. The European Union’s credibility and reliability as a partner for third countries, and particularly for neighbouring countries that have embarked on a European course, depend on compliance with this method. This method reflects the respect given to the rule of law and the pre-eminence of law and international law as a fundamental principle of the European Union, including in the context of the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sebastopol by the Russian Federation.

In conclusion, taking into account the consideration of the criteria set out in the visa liberalisation action plan and the significance of visa liberalisation for European and Ukrainian citizens, the rapporteur recommends that the members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs support this report.


OPINION of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (7.7.2016)

for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Ukraine)

(COM(2016)0236 – C8-0150/2016 – 2016/0125(COD))

Rapporteur for the opinion: Jacek Saryusz-Wolski

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The Foreign Affairs Committee has repeatedly supported visa facilitation and visa liberalisation for Eastern Partnership countries, as an important instrument of EU's Foreign and Security Policy and as a way to promote people to people contacts and enhance relations with the EU. It is considered one of the main pillars of our policy, repeatedly highlighted in the Summits by heads of EU Member States, and giving a strong message of support to the citizens of the Eastern Partnership countries.

The Visa Liberalisation Dialogue with Ukraine was launched in October 2008, the Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements having entered into force on 1 January 2008, and the former amended in 2013. In the past two years, Ukraine has achieved significant progress in implementing the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, as recognised by the Commission in the last two progress reports. 

Visa-free regime should be granted to Ukraine as soon as possible and without any further delays, in recognition of the progress the country has achieved on its European path since the EuroMaidan protests two years ago, where the Ukrainian nation fought for its European choice and European democratic values.

In order to further incentivise reform process, a monitoring mechanism should be introduced ensuring that EU has a leverage while monitoring continuous implementation of the anti-corruption and rule of law legislation. The currently considered suspension mechanism is not sufficient, as it focuses only on migration risks, and it should be completed by adding continued fulfilment of required standards and benchmarks.

The decision to grant the visa free regime to Ukraine should not be postponed until the establishment of the monitoring mechanism. The visa free regime should be granted now, however, with a reservation that the suspension mechanism will be automatically introduced as soon as its modalities are elaborated. 

In the past two years, since EuroMaidan and the changes prompted by the protests, Ukraine has embarked on an ambitious and comprehensive reform path aiming to create a genuine democratic political system and properly functioning economy. The success of these reforms should enable Ukraine transition from a post-Soviet to a European state. Since 2014 Ukraine has seen an unprecedented reform effort. As the Commission recognised there was progress made in implementation of the required reforms, including in the field of fight against corruption, the reform of the prosecution office, reform of the judiciary, strengthening the democratic institutions and rule of law. However, these reforms have to be fully implemented. This task is still far from over. The new government needs to provide the necessary determination to further pursue reforms and the political stability, which, coupled with popular support, are paramount to its success. Granting visa free regime is a recognition of the effort and success in meeting all the benchmarks set in the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). It is also a symbolic yet very tangible act of support from the EU addressed to Ukraine and its citizens.

******

The Committee on Foreign Affairs calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament adopts its position at first reading taking over the Commission proposal.

PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Title

Listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Ukraine)

References

COM(2016)0236 – C8-0150/2016 – 2016/0125(COD)

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

LIBE

28.4.2016

 

 

 

Opinion by

       Date announced in plenary

AFET

28.4.2016

Rapporteur

       Date appointed

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski

24.5.2016

Discussed in committee

14.6.2016

 

 

 

Date adopted

7.7.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

42

3

6

Members present for the final vote

Michèle Alliot-Marie, Petras Auštrevičius, Mario Borghezio, Elmar Brok, Klaus Buchner, James Carver, Lorenzo Cesa, Aymeric Chauprade, Andi Cristea, Arnaud Danjean, Mark Demesmaeker, Georgios Epitideios, Knut Fleckenstein, Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Eugen Freund, Michael Gahler, Iveta Grigule, Richard Howitt, Sandra Kalniete, Tunne Kelam, Afzal Khan, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, Andrey Kovatchev, Eduard Kukan, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Arne Lietz, Barbara Lochbihler, Ulrike Lunacek, Andrejs Mamikins, David McAllister, Francisco José Millán Mon, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Ioan Mircea Paşcu, Alojz Peterle, Tonino Picula, Kati Piri, Cristian Dan Preda, Jozo Radoš, Sofia Sakorafa, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Jaromír Štětina, László Tőkés, Ivo Vajgl, Hilde Vautmans, Boris Zala

Substitutes present for the final vote

Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Andrzej Grzyb, András Gyürk, Paavo Väyrynen, Janusz Zemke

Substitute under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Heidi Hautala


OPINION of the Committee on Legal Affairs (27.9.2016)

for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Ukraine)

(COM(2016)0236 – C8-0150/2016 – 2016/0125(COD))

Rapporteur: Heidi Hautala

SHORT JUSTIFICATION

The Legal Affairs Committee has been closely monitoring the developments in Ukraine over the last year, in particular in the fields of reform of the judiciary and the public administration and the considerable legislative activity, including amendments to the constitution and harmonising legislation to EU law, which has taken place during this period.

A delegation of members from the Committee visited Kiev in September 2015 to examine how Parliament could assist the local judicial authorities - and businesses and citizens - to create better links and relations on these questions. This was followed up in June 2016 by the organisation in Brussels of a public hearing, in cooperation with the Commission, the EU Advisory Mission (EUAM Ukraine) and the Council of Europe, with the participation of public and private Ukrainian stakeholders active in these fields.

The Commission has recognised in its last two progress reports significant headway by Ukraine in implementing the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP). This momentum needs to be capitalised upon by granting the visa free regime, but mechanisms must be in place in order to effectively monitor the progress in implementing the Association Agreement, in particular when it comes to reforming the judiciary and the public administration.

The Legal Affairs Committee is very happy to note the significant progress made, as manifested in the Commission progress reports and as seen and heard by Committee Members themselves during the above-mentioned delegation visit and public hearing. It should however be underlined that the concrete results of the progress achieved must not just be upheld but also continued to be built upon in order to streamline the rule of law in all aspects of Ukrainian society, not least in order to ensure that the decision to grant visa liberalisation and possible future similar EU action in Ukraine will contribute to further the rapprochement towards EU law and European legal traditions.

******

The Committee on Legal Affairs calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, as the committee responsible, to propose that Parliament adopts its position at first reading taking over the Commission proposal.

PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Title

Listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Ukraine)

References

COM(2016)0236 – C8-0150/2016 – 2016/0125(COD)

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

LIBE

28.4.2016

 

 

 

Opinion by

       Date announced in plenary

JURI

28.4.2016

Rapporteur

       Date appointed

Heidi Hautala

11.7.2016

Discussed in committee

5.9.2016

 

 

 

Date adopted

26.9.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

19

3

0

Members present for the final vote

Joëlle Bergeron, Marie-Christine Boutonnet, Jean-Marie Cavada, Kostas Chrysogonos, Mady Delvaux, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Sajjad Karim, Dietmar Köster, Gilles Lebreton, António Marinho e Pinto, Emil Radev, Evelyn Regner, József Szájer, Axel Voss, Tadeusz Zwiefka

Substitutes present for the final vote

Daniel Buda, Sergio Gaetano Cofferati, Pascal Durand, Angel Dzhambazki, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Stefano Maullu, Virginie Rozière


PROCEDURE – COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Title

Listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Ukraine)

References

COM(2016)0236 – C8-0150/2016 – 2016/0125(COD)

Date submitted to Parliament

20.4.2016

 

 

 

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

LIBE

28.4.2016

 

 

 

Committees asked for opinion(s)

       Date announced in plenary

AFET

28.4.2016

JURI

28.4.2016

 

 

Rapporteurs

       Date appointed

Mariya Gabriel

23.5.2016

 

 

 

Discussed in committee

26.5.2016

5.9.2016

 

 

Date adopted

26.9.2016

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

40

4

1

Members present for the final vote

Malin Björk, Michał Boni, Frank Engel, Tanja Fajon, Lorenzo Fontana, Mariya Gabriel, Kinga Gál, Ana Gomes, Nathalie Griesbeck, Jussi Halla-aho, Monika Hohlmeier, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Eva Joly, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Timothy Kirkhope, Barbara Kudrycka, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Marju Lauristin, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Roberta Metsola, Claude Moraes, József Nagy, Péter Niedermüller, Soraya Post, Judith Sargentini, Birgit Sippel, Helga Stevens, Traian Ungureanu, Cecilia Wikström, Kristina Winberg, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes present for the final vote

Carlos Coelho, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Pál Csáky, Anna Hedh, Petr Ježek, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Luigi Morgano, Morten Helveg Petersen, Josep-Maria Terricabras, Axel Voss

Substitutes under Rule 200(2) present for the final vote

Arnaud Danjean (rapporteur), Sylvie Goddyn, Mylène Troszczynski.

Date tabled

29.9.2016


FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

40

+

ALDE

Nathalie Griesbeck, Petr Ježek, Morten Helveg Petersen, Cecilia Wikström, Sophia in 't Veld

ECR

Jussi Halla-aho, Timothy Kirkhope, Helga Stevens

GUE/NGL

Malin Björk

PPE

Michał Boni, Carlos Coelho, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Pál Csáky, Frank Engel, Mariya Gabriel, Kinga Gál, Monika Hohlmeier, Teresa Jiménez-Becerril Barrio, Barbara Kudrycka, Roberta Metsola, József Nagy, Traian Ungureanu, Axel Voss, Tomáš Zdechovský

S&D

Tanja Fajon, Eugen Freund, Ana Gomes, Anna Hedh, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, Cécile Kashetu Kyenge, Marju Lauristin, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Claude Moraes, Luigi Morgano, Péter Niedermüller, Soraya Post, Birgit Sippel

Verts/ALE

Eva Joly, Judith Sargentini, Josep-Maria Terricabras

4

-

ENF

Lorenzo Fontana, Sylvie Goddyn, Mylène Troszczynski

PPE

Arnaud Danjean

1

0

EFDD

Kristina Winberg

Key to symbols:

+  :  in favour

-  :  against

0  :  abstention

Last updated: 29 March 2017Legal notice