Censor.NET reports citing Reuters.
Despite promises to soon allow Georgians and Ukrainians to travel to the EU without visas, the bloc has put a brake on easing travel rules as it has grown increasingly weary of immigration.
"Top EU officials publicly say both Georgia and Ukraine have met all the conditions for visa liberalization. They say it is only a matter of EU states agreeing internally on an emergency suspension mechanism for all visa waivers that is lacking," the agency notes. "But behind the scenes, the tone is the opposite, with Germany, France, Belgium and Italy stalling."
According to a European diplomat, "they are looking for excuses to kick the can down the road."
Berlin and Paris face elections next year and want to avoid fueling support for radical and populist parties that are already riding a wave of concern about immigration in the bloc.
"While Georgia is seen as a relatively easy case, Ukraine is much bigger and EU states are increasingly upset with what they see as insufficient progress on reforms in Kyiv, especially on fighting corruption," Reuters says. "That means these deals are effectively off the table for now, even though the EU recognizes both countries have formally met the necessary criteria."
Some diplomats warn that delays undercut the EU's influence in the region, as well as leaving pro-Western groups in Georgia and Ukraine increasingly frustrated. The bloc has already suffered setbacks in another former Soviet republic Moldova, which last month elected a president favoring closer ties with Moscow after several years of pursuing closer integration with the EU, Reuters concludes.