EU approves visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens

Brussels: The Council of the European Union (EU) on Thursday adopted a regulation granting visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens.

Under the regulation, Ukrainian citizens holding a biometric passport can travel to the Schengen area without a visa for up to 90 days, but they are not allowed to work or reside in EU countries, Xinhua news agency reported.

The approval came on the back of “necessary reforms” conducted by Ukraine in a number of areas including “migration, public order and security, external relations and fundamental rights”, according to Carmelo Abela, Maltese Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.

Echoing Abela, the European Commission said in a statement that “Ukraine has come a long way and today this is recognised and rewarded”.

“Now it is important to sustain this progress. The European Union stands ready to continue providing support and assistance to the Ukrainian authorities in this endeavour,” the Commission said.

“Visa-free travel to the Schengen area will soon become a reality — it is an important and well-deserved moment for Ukraine and its citizens that will make our already close relations even stronger,” it added.

After being signed by the Council and the European Parliament and published in the EU Official Journal, the regulations will take effect in 20 days.