Those who pose a security risk will find it much more difficult to get their hands on Schengen visas or residency permits after the implementation of a new generation of the Visa Information System which will be voted on today in the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee.
Carlos Coelho MEP, the Rapporteur on the new Visa Information System, said: “Security checks before the issuance of a visa need to be the same across the European Union. We will be able to track missing persons and those with criminal records before they even cross EU borders. From now on, we will be able to cross-check over 16 million applications for Schengen visas every year against European databases. Thanks to the new rules, consulates issuing visas will automatically check records in the EU security systems, which means that people using multiple identities or those who have been escaping justice have no chance of entering the EU.”
The database, used until now only for short-stay visas, will also extend to long-stay visas and residency permits. Carlos Coelho explained the advantages of the larger scope: “With complete data about third country nationals entering and staying in the EU, we will better prevent abuses and also enhance the screening of golden visas.”
Another major feature of the improved Visa Information System will be its role in criminal investigations: “Police, prosecutors and Europol all need available information on people travelling to and from the EU so that they can search for those who have been abducted, abused by traffickers or are simply missing. With access to the database of all granted visas to Schengen countries, these agencies will be able to consult fingerprints and images of visa applicants suspected of committing such crimes.”
The Visa Information System connects consulates in third countries and authorities at EU external borders. It serves as a source of information on applicants for visas and allows for their identification at Schengen borders. This is the latest European information system to be reformed in light of the new security and migratory challenges.
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 217 Members from 28 Member States