Visa facilitation agreements with Moldova, Ukraine and the Western Balkans entered into force in January 2008. In the same year, Ukraine and the Western Balkan countries started a dialogue on visa liberalisation with the EU. But unlike citizens from the Western Balkans, Eastern Europeans still require a visa to enter the EU. What are the obstacles to visa-free travel for Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries and what are the potential benefits of visa liberalisation? This document looks at the pros and cons of visa-free travel with the EU’s Eastern neighbours.
- Among the six Eastern Partnership countries, Moldova is the closest to a visa-free regime with the EU, surpassing Ukraine that needs to speed up reforms.
- EU fears of irregular migration, aggravated by an increase in unfounded asylum requests from the Western Balkans, remain an obstacle to the visa-free goal, despite a lack of evidence for these concerns and envisaged EU legislation to mitigate this risk.
- Visa-free travel will bring political and economic benefits for both sides.