Ukraine and the EU Extend “Transport Visa-Free” Agreement

by Roman Cheplyk
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Ukraine and the EU Extend “Transport Visa-Free” Agreement

On June 20, Ukraine and the European Commission agreed to extend the “transport visa-free” arrangement for another year, with the potential for automatic renewal through the end of 2025

This extension was announced by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

Key Highlights of the Agreement

  • No Special Permits Required: The agreement ensures that truck transportation between Ukraine and the EU will continue without the need for special permits.

  • Mutual Obligations: The updated agreement includes provisions for mutual obligations regarding licenses for transportation and the marking of trucks.

Economic Impact

Prime Minister Shmyhal emphasized the positive impact of the "transport visa-free" arrangement on Ukraine's economy. Over the year and a half since the agreement was first signed, Ukraine has seen a 48% increase in exports to the EU compared to the same period prior to the agreement. Additionally, imports have risen by 44%, benefiting Ukrainian manufacturers by providing necessary goods and equipment for production.

"Transport visa-free has already strengthened our economy," Shmyhal stated. "We look forward to maintaining this positive dynamic."

Gratitude and Future Prospects

Shmyhal expressed gratitude to European partners for their support and solidarity, highlighting the significance of this agreement as a step towards deeper economic integration with Europe, which is a prerequisite for EU membership.

"We are taking another important step towards integration into the economic space of a unified Europe," concluded Shmyhal.

Background on "Transport Visa-Free"

The "transport visa-free" agreement was initially signed on June 29, 2022. It eliminates the need for Ukrainian carriers to obtain permits for bilateral and transit transportation to EU countries, facilitating the continuous export of Ukrainian products through road checkpoints.

  • Extension and Modifications: On March 16, 2023, Ukraine and the EU agreed to extend the agreement until June 30, 2024. The European Commission proposed stricter updates to the agreement on March 5, 2024, focusing on document requirements and enhancing obligations to combat fraud and improve road safety.

  • Potential Restrictions: Proposed updates included mandatory documentation and enhanced safety measures. There was also a provision for suspending the agreement in specific areas if significant violations were observed in the national road transport market.

Challenges and Support

  • Polish Protests: Since the fall of 2023, Polish carriers, later joined by farmers, have blocked Ukrainian trucks, citing "excessive competition" resulting from the "transport visa-free" arrangement. Despite these challenges, the Ukrainian side refused to revert to the pre-June 2022 regime, and the European Commission supported the continuation of the liberalized transport agreement.

The extension of the "transport visa-free" agreement marks a continued effort to enhance economic ties and support the seamless movement of goods between Ukraine and the EU, fostering growth and integration.

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