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European Commission proposes visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine, Georgia and Kosovo

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Norman Arvidsson
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The European Parliament will vote, after this summer recess, a visa-free short-stay travel permission to Ukraine, Georgia, and Kosovo, after the proposal being approved by the European Commission. If approved, citizens of these three countries will be allowed to enter Schengen zone's countries without asking for a previous visa and remain up to 90 days.

The proposal has been discussed for a while, but it has raised the fears of many EU members, especially by Germany and France, which have concerns about its consequences for their countries. The weak passport system of Kosovo and the possibility of creating an open door for illegal immigrants from Ukraine were among possible drawbacks pointed out by them.

So, at this stage, Georgia is the only country that seems more likely to have the visa-free permission approved without raising any eyebrows in Europe. But, it is believed in Brussels that the proposal will be approved by the European Parliament anyway despite the lack of unanimity.

And yet, the approval of a visa-free regime for Georgia, Ukraine, and Kosovo won't necessarily means that citizens of those countries will be allowed to enter in all EU countries in the long-term. And this is because members of the European Union are working behind the scenes creating measures that can be used if they become unhappy with the agreement in the future.

Last May, for instance, EU interior ministers approved a mechanism that has been called "emergency brake", which will allow the temporary suspension of the visa-free permission with any non-EU countries if necessary due to the refugee crisis in Europe. Plus, Germany and France are also working to approve a "suspension clause" that will give them, and to any other EU country, the right to withdraw from the visa-free regime.

Kosovo has met all requirements

Even though the concerns about Kosovo are still alive among the EU members, it was said by the EU Commission that the country had met all necessary conditions required to join the visa-free short-stay system.

As demanded, Kosovo implemented biometric passports, for example. And by the time the agreement is approved, they will have ratified their border agreement with Montenegro and imposed more effective measures against organised crime and corruption, according to the European Commission.

Another point being considered in the discussions is that EU citizens are already allowed to travel to Kosovo without a visa, so it would be only fair to adopt the same measure for the other way around. The country has also written a document signing a trade and political pact with the EU, even though not being recognized by the EU members Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Greece, and Slovakia.

How the visa-free short-stay works

The visa-free short-stay visa suggested to be joined by Ukraine, Kosovo, and Georgia doesn't cover all EU, neither is free of requirements for travelers from any country.

The Schengen agreement was signed by 22 of 28 EU Member States, and by Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, but not by Ireland and the UK, for instance.

In addition to it, those interested in travelling to those countries will still have to prove financial means and are only allowed to travel for write my paper business, tourism, and family purposes -- not to work. And they will be authorised to stay only up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

Turkey wasn't included

On the other hand, Turkey failed to meet the requirements and missed the deadline to be included in the discussions for visa-free within the Schengen Zone.

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Norman Arvidsson is an independent author based in Atlanta, GA, USA. He writes with the purpose to share his experience and knowledge with others.
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