EU Visa procedures under fire
It was yet another disappointment from the EU for Ukrainian businesses again last week as the Home Affairs Council failed to come with anything concrete to improve visa procedures for Ukrainian businessmen in the EU.
NEW EUROPE | James Wilson
From truck drivers to software programmers, the complicated and clumsy procedures to apply for visas to conduct their business in the EU is causing good Ukrainian companies to lose business to their competitors.
“At any given time 30% of our truck drivers are queuing up to apply for visas,” says Vladimir Grinenko, the General Director of Ukrainian road haulage company “Rapid”. “This staff down time not only adds unnecessary overhead costs to our business, but it means that we do not have the same flexibility to respond as quickly as our competitors from EU countries, who have visa free access to Ukraine.”
“Things have definitely got more complicated for us in the last 2 years, and they are getting worse, not better,” says Alekesy Turchin, Director of the leading software company “Softengi”. “EU visa procedures are now demanding commercially sensitive information from us like correspondence with business clients. Our clients, especially in the early stages of business development, can be very sensitive to the situation if our company can’t send a representative quickly and flexibly to meet them according to their schedule. Failure to get visas for our software programmers is losing us hundreds of thousands of euros of business.”
“It is very frustrating. We had a very bad experience last year when we failed to get visas for 2 of our top professionals, and we are now facing another similar problem in a current negotiation,” he went on to say. “Business is already tough enough without this extra bureaucratic burden. All we are asking for is simpler and faster procedures for professionals.”
Ukrainian business is clearly suffering from the current system, and whilst progress is being made elsewhere with visa facilitation for Russia and the Western Balkans, questions are being asked about the fairness of treatment for Ukrainian professionals facing visa application difficulties with the EU. The question of simplifying and streamlining the visa procedures operated by member states is a top priority for business to be tabled at the next EU-Ukraine Co-operation Council later this month.
James Wilson is a Director of the EU Ukraine Business Council.