Visas to enter the EU will not be a carte blanche for all anymore. New harmonised and coordinated rules will ensure that it will be easier for legitimate travellers to enter while stricter security checks will make sure those who do enter do not pose a security risk. With these new rules, we will better protect the citizens’ security and fight the huge migration challenges that our continent is facing.
Heinz Becker MEP, the EPP Group’s Spokesman on the Visa Code, which was approved this evening during a meeting of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, said: “The beautiful thing about Europe is that it is a continent open to trade, culture, development, research and innovation from all parts of the world. With the new rules for visas for the Schengen area, Europe will be even more accessible for those who come to travel, study and do business. At the same time, we are sending a clear message to countries which do not take back their citizens who are staying in Europe illegally. We are also making sure that our security checks during the visa application ensure that all those who are coming with a visa don’t pose a security risk. We cannot afford second chances when it comes to protecting our citizens from attacks.”
“The most important aspect of the new Visa Code is related to the willingness to cooperate by third countries on the return policy. When deciding whether to issue a short stay visa to an applicant or not, a number of factors should be taken into consideration. These include in particular how much the applicant’s country would have accepted returns of its own citizens who are illegally staying in Europe.”
The revamped Visa Code includes other important changes which should make it easier for those travelling to Europe in a legitimate manner to obtain a short stay visa. These changes include that the process should be made faster and reflects today’s technological advances. As well as that, there should be harmonised rules on multiple entry visas for individuals who travel to our continent on a regular basis for different reasons, such as business or trade.
Mr Becker insisted on having a very strict policy, and he referred to a particular context: “We are willing to facilitate short stay visas for educational reasons, business or professionals in the area of sports and culture. But we have to make certain that those facilitations are targeted. Easier rules and procedures for business people, students, athletes and artists must not be used to enter our continent illegally, by, for example, saying that they are some sort of relatives of those third country residents.”
This evening, the Committee also voted - for the second time in the span of a few weeks after being rejected in the November Plenary in Strasbourg - on a own initiative Report requesting EU humanitarian visas. “The current migration crisis needs a coordinated and integrated approach by all EU Member States. All options should be considered, including that of preventing people risking their lives by crossing the Mediterranean Sea on boats. However, it is simply impossible to put the burden on embassies in third countries to deal with thousands of visa requests. Humanitarian visas must stay at the discretion of the respective Member States”, said Becker.
All the Members of the European Parliament will now vote on the legislative initiative Report on humanitarian visas during next week’s Plenary Session in Strasbourg.
The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 219 Members from 28 Member States