With this publication Europe without Barriers (EWB) summarizes
comprehensive data of the large scale field research conducted in the
summer 2010 with the support of International Renaissance Foundation.
Visa issuance procedures applied by the EU and Schengen Member States was the main research target, as it still remains one of the most sensitive issues for Ukrainian citizens regarding all the EU agenda, mainly due to the complications during obtaining visas.
Nevertheless, the problems rising within visa application procedure are important not only for Ukrainian citizens who spend their time and money in order to obtain the right to enter the territory of the Schengen zone; the consulates are also affected, as complaints by the clients may indicate administrative deficiencies and detect a quality level of the services provided.
Long “real” and “virtual” queues, visitors’ complaints on the unfriendly treatment by the staff, ambiguous application of existing regulations cause wide spread disappointment on visa regime with the EU and negative perception of European visa policies and practices in the eyes of Ukrainians.
At the beginning of 2010 Edward Lucas, famous British analyst and journalist, reflected in Ukrainian mass media upon the discrepancies regarding high EU requirements in the sphere of public administration taking as an example the visa practice of particular EU consulates functioning on the territory of Ukraine.
Mr. Lucas mentioned that accountability and transparency as the main principles of European administration system should be symmetrically applied by all parties of the process. The expert advised to fight for adherence to all the principles mentioned above by compiling ratings of consular services on the basis of multilevel monitoring, which will detect the discrepancies among the Consulates and will serve as an important argument for promoting necessary elimination of existing drawbacks.
EWB experts not only made that idea real, providing unbiased expertise of visa issuance by the EU and Schengen zone members; they also continued comprehensive evaluations of implementation of existing regulatory framework, including the Agreement between Ukraine and EU on the Facilitation of the Issuance of Visas (Visa Facilitation Agreement – VFA) and the EU Visa Code that entered into force on April 5th 2010.
The data and assessments provided here were presented at the roundtable held by EWB in Kyiv on October 27th 2010. Among others, 14 top officials out of 20 consular services surveyed participated in the event.
We hope that increased publicity and openness demonstrated by many consulates of the EU Member States is only the first step towards productive atmosphere of transparency, openness and trustworthy dialogue between the consulate officials and Ukrainian society which will contribute to the solution of the problems restricting the freedom of people to people contacts.