Time for visa-free movement for EU’s eastern neighbours, argues Piotr Kaźmierkiewicz in European Voice

March 7, 2013

Should the European Union allow Ukrainians, Moldovans and citizens of the EU’s other eastern neighbours to travel without visas, asks Piotr Kaźmierkiewicz, expert at the Institute of Public Affairs, Warsaw, in an article published on 7 March 2013 by the European Voice, the influential Brussels weekly publication. He suggests that the EU should revisit its well-tested liberal approach towards Poland and other Central European states and stop treating visa-free travel as a “carrot” in talks with neighbouring states.

Members of the Schengen zone waived visa requirements for countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and the Baltic states in the first half of the 1990s. The move was made before these countries’ formal process of association with the EU began, and before progress was achieved in combating illegal migration and cross-border criminality. Kaźmierkiewicz writes that “the potential increase on migratory pressure was considered to be of secondary importance to the political and symbolic significance of the end of the Cold War”.

Kaźmierkiewicz proposes that decisions on the EU’s visa regime with the eastern neighbours likewise be de-coupled from progress toward border and migration control. He claims that the EU’s current policy with regard to its eastern neighbours “holds ordinary people hostage to an evaluation of their state’s administrative capacity and their politicians’ commitment to EU standards”. Resistance of some EU member states to the prospect of visa-free movement weakens the trust of ordinary Ukrainians and Moldovans in the EU as “an anchor of regional stability”, he argues.

The article, “A different approach to visas and migration control – Looking back to find a better future for EU visa-liberalisation policies”, draws on Time to De-link Visas and Migration Control: What can we Learn from the EU’s Success in the Past? – a PASOS policy brief, published in January 2013.

“A different approach to visas and migration control”European Voice, 7 March 2013

Time to De-link Visas and Migration Control – PASOS Policy Brief No. 2, 2013 – 21 January 2013

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