Some EU member states are discussing the possibility of limiting the visa-free regime for a number of Balkan and Eastern European states, in particular Ukraine, due to "abuse". The outlet Radio Liberty reported this with reference to the relevant documents.
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, and Slovakia made their assessments regarding the work of the liberalized visa regime with the countries of the Western Balkans, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
Belgium is concerned about the general visa-free regime.
"In general, Ukraine remains a cause for concern. More specifically, this refers to indicators related to justice and security, since it seems that even several years after the abolition of the visa regime, problems in this area remain. Indeed, even if national legislation has been formally adopted, it does not seem to be fully applied. So, taking into account the constant lack of compliance with the roadmap in this direction, we could think about the options that should be considered if we do not want to launch a mechanism for suspending the visa-free regime for Ukraine," the Belgian side said.
The Czech Republic points to a "high number of asylum applications" from citizens of Georgia, Moldovaб and Ukraine, as well as illegal migrants from Moldova and Ukraine. According to the statistics of this state, Ukrainians are the first in terms of the number of asylum applications in 2020 among countries that do not have a visa regime with the Czech Republic.
"The visa abolition between the EU and Ukraine, however, cannot be the reason for this situation, because usually Ukrainians apply for asylum in order to extend their stay in the Czech Republic after the expiration of their residence permit or visa," the Czech side stated.
In addition, the Ukrainians, according to Prague, are the largest group of citizens of the country outside the bloc who live illegally in the Czech Republic. In 2020, that figure rose to 3,242 from 1,504 in the previous year. In the long term, Ukrainian citizens make up about 50% of illegal migrants outside the bloc. At the same time, Prague suggests that this trend has intensified in 2021, in particular due to quarantine and illegal employment.
According to Germany, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, as well as Albania and Serbia, were among the top ten countries whose immigrants most often violated laws against foreigners in 2020. Ukraine ranked fifth in this rating. At the same time, Berlin notes that such violations do not fall into the statistics of illegal entry. At the same time, Germany notes that the number of applications from Ukrainian citizens for international protection in this country decreased by 61% in 2020 compared to 2019.
Context. A visa-free regime for Ukrainians for short-term trips to the EU and Schengen countries was imposed on June 11, 2017.