Visa Liberalization Saga: EU to face problems if Ukraine not granted visa-free travel, but 2016 is much too ambitious aim

12:05 Nov. 25, 2016

EU to face problems if Ukraine not granted visa-free travel, but 2016 is much too ambitious aim

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks with European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn during an EU-Ukraine summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Nov. 24, 2016 (AP photo)

Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement, comments on delay with visa liberalisation for Ukraine

EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, believes Europe will face serious "loss of trust" problems if it fails to grant Ukrainians the promised visa-free travel to the bloc member countries.

Read more EU-Ukraine visa-free epic tale: The day that never comes

That is how he commented on the issue, answering a question of a European Pravda journalist.

He iterated that both on political and technical level, the EU recognised that Ukraine has completed all the requirements for visa liberalisation.

"144 criteria are fulfilled. E-declarations are a great step forward," Hahn added.

At the same time, he stressed that the time limits set by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker are very much ambitious.

"I've heard Juncker's statement. Granting visa liberalisation for Ukraine before the end of the year is very ambitious, if not much too ambitious, aim."

But the main thing is the political will, he added. "If there is a political will – there will be no problems, this issue is technically very easy to solve," Hahn said.

Read also 'Ukraine must not suffer from EU problems' - Gerashchenko

Speaking at a joint press conference after the EU-Ukraine Summit held on November 24 in Brussels, the President of the European Commission declared that further delays with the visa-free regime are unacceptable.

"Ukraine has fulfilled all the conditions that we have set, and so it is only normal that, after having seen Ukraine undertake all the reforms that have been asked for, the European Union, for its part, delivers. I remain convinced that despite the difficulties and the divergences that can exist between certain Member States and the European Parliament, we will be able to grant visa liberalisation for Ukraine before the end of the year," Juncker claimed.

European Council president Donald Tusk also said he was confident the issue could be resolved by the end of the year, stressing that its delay was down to internal EU matters rather than any fault on the part of Ukraine.

Tusk also denied reports that France wanted to block the decision until next year's French presidential election.

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