Summary of the East European Studies meeting with Elena Jileva, a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Sussex, UK, and a WWC-OSI International Junior Public Policy Scholar
Elena Jileva discussed the EU's visa policy and its implications for a wider Europe, focusing primarily on its impact on those countries currently not being considered as candidate states for EU enlargement. The common visa policy is crucial for relations between EU members and the candidate countries, as well as for relations between candidate states and non-candidate countries. Its purpose was to encourage cooperation between neighbors, lead to enhanced economic benefits and accelerate the accession process. Jileva argued, however, that the visa policy actually engenders exclusionary policies towards neighbors and impedes cross-border movement. Candidate countries on the fringe of the EU are implementing these exclusionary policies on their non-EU neighbors in order to maintain free access of movement within the EU. For example, since Poland (an EU candidate country) implemented a visa requirement for neighboring Ukrainians (a non-candidate country), there has been a 30% - 50% drop in trade across the border.
Jileva describes the new visa regulations directed towards those countries on the "black list" as time-consuming, expensive, and demeaning. However, there are some viable solutions that could be implemented to reverse the negative trends. For example, more consular staff could be provided and on-line applications could be introduced to speed up the visa application process; and, checkpoints could be modernized and border guards trained to increase speed and efficiency. Jileva also suggests that the black list be modified so that certain countries - possibly Ukraine and Russia - would not be required to obtain visas despite their non-EU status.