On 17 November, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed, on behalf of the Council, a negotiating position on visa liberalisation for Ukraine. It confirmed the Commission proposal to provide for visa-free travel for EU citizens when travelling to the territory of Ukraine and for citizens of this country when travelling to the EU, for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.
The Council takes the view that the entry into force of visa liberalisation for Ukraine should be at the same time as the entry into force of the new suspension mechanism.
On the basis of this mandate, the presidency will start negotiations with the European Parliament.
"By giving its green light today, the Council has demonstrated its commitment to visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine, taking into account that all requirements have been met. Credible reform is the right path and should be encouraged. I am also delighted that our decision is able to send a positive message in the run up to the EU-Ukraine Summit on 24 November."
Peter Javorčík, Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the EU, and President of the Permanent Representatives Committee
In December 2015 the Commission concluded that Ukraine had met all the benchmarks for the exemption of the visa requirement. On 20 April 2016 the Commission published the proposal for visa liberalisation.
Once the new visa regime for Ukraine is agreed with the Parliament and formally adopted, it will move the country from Annex I of Regulation 539/2001 (countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the Schengen area) to Annex II of the same regulation (visa free countries), thus providing for visa-free travel for EU citizens when travelling to the territory of Ukraine and for citizens of this country when travelling to the EU, for a period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.
In the context of the current migratory situation in the European Union and taking into account the Commission's proposals for visa liberalisation of Georgia, Ukraine, Turkey and Kosovo and the discussions with member states, the Commission decided on 4 May 2016 to present a proposal to amend Regulation 539/2001 to revise the current suspension mechanism.
The main objective of the revised regulation is to strengthen the suspension mechanism. It does this by making it easier for member states to notify circumstances which might lead to a suspension, by enabling the Commission to trigger the mechanism on its own initiative, and by tasking the Commission to send an annual report to the European Parliament and Council on the extent to which visa-exempt third countries continue to meet the necessary criteria.
The possible grounds for suspension have been extended and the use of the mechanism will also be facilitated by shortening reference periods and deadlines in order to allow for a faster procedure.
The discussions between the Parliament and the Council on the visa suspension mechanism are still ongoing.
Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be subject to the application of these measures, in accordance with the protocols annexed to the EU treaties. The visa regime of these member states remains subject to their national legislation.