Posted on 01.08.2011 in Featured, News, Russia

1.08.2011: Commission proposes easier travel in Kaliningrad area

The European Commission proposes facilitations in crossing border for citizens of the Kaliningrad area, Commission spokesman Michael Cercone said in Brussels on Friday.

Kaliningrad Oblast, photo by Andrein, Wikipedia
Kaliningrad Oblast, photo by Andrein, Wikipedia

The proposal consists of modifying the Local Border Traffic Regulation adopted in 2006 and considering the entire Kaliningrad area a border zone. Citizens of the area are disadvantaged due to its geographical location – Kaliningrad oblast is a Russian enclave surrounded by the EU Member States. They often have family, social or economical ties that reach across the border. According to the proposal, border zone citizens would be able to cross the border without a visa, only with a special permit to travel regularly within an area extending 30 to 50 km from the border.

In the report on the implementation and functioning of the local border traffic regime published in February, the Commission states that “the LBT regime is working well in practice, since it makes life significantly easier for people living near the external land borders and there is little evidence that the regime is being abused” and “the LBT Regulation strikes the right balance between facilitations and the security concerns of the Schengen area as a whole.”

This statement was mirrored by EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who said that this development “will facilitate people-to-people contacts and enhance economic cooperation on both sides of the border, without affecting security.’

Four local border traffic agreements are already in place: between Hungary and Ukraine (January 2008), Slovak Republic and Ukraine (September 2008), Poland and Ukraine (July 2009) and Romania and Moldova (October 2010). Several other agreements (with Russia and Belarus) have been signed and await ratification.

Proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 1931/2006 as regards the inclusion of the Kaliningrad area and certain Polish administrative districts in the eligible border area

July 2011

Source: EEAS, Baltic Course