As Ukraine continues its preparations for the May 2015 Eastern Partnership summit in Riga, Latvia, which is expected to tackle the issue of visa-free travel for citizens of Ukraine to the EU, IOM held two events aimed to assist the Ukrainian Government in its efforts to transfer the legislative and administrative reforms related to the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan* (VLAP) from paper to practice.
On 1 April 2015, IOM invited representatives of the Ukrainian authorities dealing with various aspects of identity management, chiefly the State Migration Service, the State Registration Service, and the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights for a coordination meeting to finalize the Assessment Report on Document Security and Identity Management in Ukraine led by Mr. John Stienen, Senior Policy Advisor at the Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.
As Mr. Steinen presented the comprehensive overview of the report, the participants discussed the recommendations for further enhancement of document security, including biometrics and identity management in Ukraine. “The study was launched in October 2013, when Ukraine was still undergoing the first phase of the Action Plan on Visa Liberalisation. Later on, it was decided that the study should continue through the beginning of the second phase, past May 2014, in order to prepare a reliable and evidence-based document that addresses all comments, observations and feedback from Ukrainian state practitioners,” said the Dutch expert.
The study, conducted under the MIGRECO** project, is expected to be published and distributed in April-May 2015.
IOM organized another event promoting EU-Ukraine visa-free regime progress. A workshop on Ukraine’s implementation of the second phase of the VLAP took place on 2-3 April 2015.
Ukrainian officials from the State Migration Service, the State Border Guard Service, the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the State Aviation Service, and the State Enterprise “Maritime Ports Administration” attended the workshop, conducted by a team of IOM experts, to improve their capacity to successfully implement of the VLAP and accurately monitor this process.
The workshop covered the VLAP implementation monitoring, interagency coordination and prerequisites for its enhancement, and other issues concerning the overall policy framework, which are to secure Ukraine’s progress in meeting the benchmarks of the second phase. The participants also reviewed the EU legislation on document security, including biometrics and personal data protection, and learned about the EU travel and identity document information exchange systems FADO and PRADO.
“The enhanced mobility of citizens in a secure and well-managed environment is a key goal the EU and Ukraine are striving for”, said Ms. Yuliya Ryzhykh, IOM Senior Project Specialist for the Capacity Building and Migration Management Unit. “IOM will continue its efforts to assist the Ukrainian state authorities to efficiently and speedily implement the VLAP’s second phase”, said the IOM representative.
*The EU-Ukraine Visa Liberalisation Dialogue was launched on 29 October 2008 and its main tool, the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan (VLAP), was presented to Ukraine on 22 November 2010. The Action Plan contains two tiers of benchmarks: first phase benchmarks concerning the overall policy framework (legislation and institutions), which were to pave the way for the second phase benchmarks relating to the effective and sustainable implementation of the relevant measures.
**With a €2.4 million budget, the EU-funded MIGRECO project (“Strengthening Migration Management and Cooperation on Readmission in Eastern Europe”) has been supporting Ukraine in implementation of the VLAP since February 2013. Key project partners in Ukraine are the State Migration Service, the State Border Guard Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Social Policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Secretariat of the Ombudsperson.