The European Commission submitted amendments (COM 2018/252 final; COM 2018/302 final) to the existing EU visa policy (Regulation 2009/810) to address irregular migration, threats to security and facilitate lawful travel.

EDC News: European Commission upgrades EU Common Visa Policy

The EU Common Visa policy (Regulation 2009/810) harmonises rules, Visa Code, for countries whose nationals require a visa for short-term visits to Schengen areas; including 22 European Union Member States and Associated States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The policy was enforced to simplify and encourage leisure and business travel to the EU and to contribute to EU’s economy, growth and intercultural connections. The impact of the policy is demonstrated in the increase of the number of Schengen visas issued from 10.2 million in 2009 to 14.7 million in 2017. This increase led to the implementation of the Visa Information System (VIS), which is a centralised IT system linking Schengen States national systems for the enabling of visa data exchange.

Since the introduction of the Visa Code (2010), changes in migration and security challenges called for a revision of the code that will create a balance between migration & security concerns, financial considerations and general external relations. For instance, the policy has to be flexible enough to support tourism’s contribution to the EU GDP (13 %) but secure enough to protect EU’s borders, namely, against the 1 million illegal immigrants which were apprehended in 2016. In addition, the financial resources for processing visa applications are diminishing and the application procedure burdensome and time consuming. Taking these challenges into consideration, the European Commission put forward a proposal (COM 2018/252 final; COM 2018/251) consisting of amendments to the original policy (Regulation 2009/810):

  • to strengthen visa policy so that it becomes a more effective tool to respond to the increase and complexity of migration and security challenges

  • use of digital visa will be introduced in order to, reduce the stress associated with visa processing for both applicants and consulates

  • the current visa fee will be increased to enhance efficiency of visa processing by ensuring the availability of adequate staffs and resources in the consulate

  • introducing a harmonised approach to issuing multiple-entry visas with long validity

  • more streamlined visa procedures and facilitating short-term tourism

  • improve security by significantly revising of the Visa Information System (VIS) to facilitate greater interoperability of systems to close information gaps and enhance internal security

It is expected that the implementation of these amendments will reduce security risks, the level of irregular migration, develop improved return and readmission agreements and migration management between the EU and the immigrants country of origin, and a more efficient visa processing and data exchange system.


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