Media: European Union Concerned about Visa-Free Travel Abuse, Including by Ukraine

Ukrainian and European flags

Some EU countries have raised the issue of possible abolishment of the visa-free regime with some western Balkan states, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova due to a series of abuses by the citizens of these countries.

The European media write about frustration, referring to the internal document of the European Union, which they managed to get acquainted with.

The document is dated 27 September and came a day ahead of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s Western Balkan tour. The EU Member States are expected to discuss the issue on 13 October.

The abuses include, primarily, unauthorised residence offences committed by citizens from visa-free Albania, Moldova, Ukraine, and Serbia. Frustration appears to be mounting among France, Germany, and Italy.

The document also points to a significant (51%) increase in Georgian asylum claims over the past three months, when compared to the same period in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany mentions Moldova as a particularly serious case with a 429% jump between June to August 2019 and June to August 2021.

Italy made similar comments about Moldova, noting human-trafficking networks operating through “neighbouring countries” were abusing visa-free travel and floated the idea of stripping Moldova of visa-free travel “in case of insufficient progress.”

France mentions the problems caused by the citizens of Albania, Georgia, and Serbia

Belgium described the number of asylum applications from Moldova in 2021 “as an alarming increase.” The Czech Republic said it has seen a high number of unfounded asylum claims from Georgian, Moldovan, and Ukrainian nationals.

As a reminder, the European Commission’s report on the suspension of visa-free regimes published in August this year stated that Ukraine generally complies with visa liberalisation but stressed the need to strengthen the fight against corruption, money laundering, and organised crime.

Bogdan Marusyak

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