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Providing Ukraine with the visa-free regime was vigorously celebrated last year. At the same time, there were a lot of debates about how visa-free regime would affect the desire of Ukrainians to go to Vienna and drink some Viennese coffee or eat a strudel. Now you can see this in figures.

Ukraine’s Border Guard Service has provided data on the number of people crossing the EU- Ukraine border. It is clear that the border guards count the number of times. Therefore, if some guy from Galicia visits his German friend in Little Poland every weekend, then the border guards also consider this border crossing. That is why the annual number is high. But how should he count then? Generally, the statistics show where Ukrainians’ destinations after receiving visa-free regime with the EU.

In 2017, Ukrainians have crossed the border of the EU for 16.5 million times. It is only 3% more (about 500 thousand times) compared to 2016. Indeed, the number of Ukrainians who visited the EU has grown, but all this talks about endemic trips of Ukrainians to the EU after visa-free regime introduction was fiction.

Related: Ukraine did not violate terms of visa-free regime, – European Parliament

After receiving visa-free regime, Ukrainians have sharply increased the number of trips to… no, not to Poland, but to Denmark! In 2017, 6351 Ukrainian citizens came to Denmark, which is 6251% more than in 2016. But here the figures are changed by the base of comparison and the appearance of new direct air routes to Denmark. In 2017 citizens of Ukraine have about 10 million times crossed the Ukraine-Poland border. This is about 60% of all trips of Ukrainians to the EU countries. But, what is most interesting, the visa-free travel not only did not increase the number of those wishing to go to Poland but even reduced it. Compared to 2016, the number of Ukrainians who visited Poland decreased by 1%. Why?

Those guest workers have long been chosen by Poland, and therefore the visa regime has not changed the situation radically. The statistics of Poland also confirmed this. In 2017, 1,1 million Ukrainian citizens did some seasonal works in Poland, and in 2016, this figure reached to 1.3 million people. As for the long-term work visas, in 2017, their number grew by only 8% compared to 2016. Poles are not very willing to issue long-term work visas, so their total number is about 220 thousand visas, but seasonal workers are suitable for them.

Related: Visa-free regime between Ukraine-UAE comes into force

In 2017, 115 thousand Ukrainians, have visited Austria. This is 9% more than in 2016. So the Ukrainians really supported our president in the idea of going to Vienna and showing the whole of Europe “What Ukraine really is”. The number of Ukrainians who have visited Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Germany after the introduction of visa-free travel has grown substantially. It is clear that the number of Ukrainians who visited Germany is 29 times less than the number of Ukrainians who visited Poland, but there is growth, and indeed many Ukrainians now go to Germany not only as labor migrant, but also

The visa-free regime did not provoke the massive flight of Ukrainians from the country, as someone could expect. Some Ukrainians got the opportunity to see the EU and relax in the EU, although the financial opportunities of the Ukrainians do not usually allow easy travel to Europe (even or a weekend). Therefore, not all Ukrainians go abroad. But quite a lot of them do; a lot of young and active people have opportunities for traveling abroad. A fairly large number of low costs fly from Ukraine to the EU countries. In addition, the number of different tourist tours in the EU has increased. So those wishing to visit the EU can always find the best option for themselves.

Related: Canadian Parliament recommended to provide Ukraine with lethal arms, introduce visa-free travel

Speaking about work in the EU, the visa-free regime prohibits this. And only Poland violates the EU laws and agrees to turn a blind eye to the semi-legal work of Ukrainians. While the EU has not yet made Poland stop this, the Ukrainians should use this chance. In any case, even the president and prime minister of Ukraine, when talking about a visa, often forget to say that this is only for tourism, and they say that this stimulates the growth of the number of workers in the EU. Indeed, for many Ukrainians, the main feature of visa-free travel is the opportunity to work in the EU, even if this work is semi-legal. I believe that in some 40-50 years, Ukrainians will go to the EU for vacations and day offs, but guest workers from Russia and other CIS countries will come to Ukraine to earn some money. In our world, everything changes.

Related: Ukraine plans to sign agreement on visa-free regime with few countries, – Poroshenko

P.S. For the currency market, visa-free is a true evil. During 2017, Ukrainians withdrew about $ 3 billion from their payment cards on the territory of the EU. But the EU residents in Ukraine spent only some $ 550 million. It means that Ukraine is in the red.

Related: 3,000 Georgians did not return to country after visa-free trip to EU

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