The aim of the project was to entirely eliminate visas between the EU, Eastern Partnership countries, and Russia, through gradual liberalization of EU visa policy. We have been engaged in efforts to introduce friendly visa and border solutions for our Eastern neighbors since 2002 till 2015. We monitored the visa policies and procedures for issuing visas for citizens of Eastern Europe by the countries of the European Union, as well as the conditions of crossing the European Union’s eastern border. We published the results of our observations and research in a series of reports: on the situation on Poland’s eastern borders and EU’s external borders (in 2003, 2008, 2012 and 2013); on Polish and European visa policy (in 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2012); [see: Publications]. We presented the reports and recommendations resulting from our research at meetings and conferences organized in Poland, at the EU level, in the member states, and in the countries of Eastern Europe [see: Events].
Since visa-free travel between the EU and selected countries of Eastern Europe has become a long-term EU objective, we focused on proposing solutions which would facilitate implementation of the declarations of EU member states concerning visa-free travel in that region. We actively advocated for: implementation of the declarations made in visa facilitation agreements and in the Community Code on Visas; adoption of Operational Programs leading to visa-fee travel; designing special solutions for Belarus, which authorities are not interested in approximation with the EU; and eliminating visa fees for Eastern Partnership countries and Russia. We have been seeking to present strong arguments for liberalizing visa policies and to dispel the doubts and anxieties of member states related to the introduction of visa-free movement across borders.
We have launched a project aimed at monitoring visa liberalisation between the Eastern Partnership countries and the EU, the Eastern Partnership Visa Liberalisation Index, available in English and in Russia. Using a network of experts from the Eastern Partnership countries we have been evaluating the readiness of these countries to introduce visa-free movement. Our observers have been monitoring the level of compliance with the technical requirements necessary for the liberalization of the EU visa regime by specific countries, making sure that the existing or planned regulations are consistent with the criteria adopted in the Action Plan and in other binding bilateral documents. Outcomes have been presented on an interactive website. We also monitored the quality of service at border crossings between Poland and Ukraine and the practice of issuing visas and permits to Ukrainians in local border traffic. We presented the results of our research along with conclusions and recommendations [see: Publications
] at meetings and conferences organized in Poland, at the EU level, in member states, and in Eastern European countries [see: Events
In our efforts to accelerate the process of lifting the visa regime and improve the quality of service for travelers at the eastern border of the EU, we collaborated with organizations and institutions from the EU and from Eastern European countries. We also cooperated within the Visa-Free-Europe Coalition launched on our initiative in 2010, which brings together almost 50 organizations and institutions from the EU states and Eastern European countries [see: Partner Organizations
The Coalition webpage, www.visa-free-europe.eu
, is a source of information both on the process of visa liberalization and on activities undertaken by coalition members. We have been posting there cyclicalreports from monitoring the progress of specific countries on the road of visa liberalization and analyses of changes in EU visa policy.