Impact Assessment of a Visa Free Regime between the EU and Russia: the Case of Lithuania

Mindaugas Jurkynas 1  and Vilija Gelažauskaitė 1
  • 1 Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University

Abstract

The main aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of a potential visa waiver between the EU and the Russian Federation for the Lithuanian systems of internal, foreign affairs, customs and border control. The analysis will focus upon effects of the aforementioned visa free regime for the scope of legal and illegal migration, crime rates, the system of state border control, the organisation of police activities, the system of control of illegal migration, a financial burden for the system of asylum and general and future costs. Empirical data consists of interviews obtained at ministries of foreign affairs and the interior and the related institutions such as the Police Department, the Migration Department and the State Border Guard Service under the Ministry of the Interior, the Customs Department under the Ministry of Finance, from other officials and statistical data, official statements, and earlier studies. The study consists of five main parts: the political context for the potential visa waiver, its impact for the above-mentioned state institutions, the calculation of potential financial costs, and conclusions and recommendations. The two latter parts are to large extent future-oriented and these methodologically challenge an exact assessment of total costs of possible visa waiver. Besides, the analysis deliberately does not delve into possible benefits of EU-Russia visa freedom. The analysis unveils the negative impact of the possible visa free regime: a visa waiver would abolish the special Kaliningrad transition programme and its financing, increase general crime rates, activity of organised crime groups and potential for terrorism and human trafficking. Financial costs consisting of reduced EU financing, lost income and increased needs to strengthen public institutions would call for 16-17 million Litas in annual expenditures without additional costs and future projects worth, most likely, 40-85 million Litas.

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