The massive, all-time high inflow of asylum seekers to the European Union in 2015 sparked discussions across the EU on how to deal with the migration challenge. The European Council and the EU Member States proposed a number of measures, from a mandatory quota system to strengthening external borders and a shutdown of the Schengen zone, or at least a limitation of it. In this context, a review of the EU Visa Code which is aimed at introducing more liberal visa procedures for foreigners, which was started in April 2014, might be seen by some as inappropriate.
This view is, however, largely a result of misunderstandings about the nature of existing visa procedures and the difference between flows of irregular (forced) immigration and legitimate travelling. There is no direct link between visa liberalization and the dynamics of long-term migration and asylum requests.
In this paper we discuss the proposal to amend the Visa Code by the European Commission, the outcomes of discussions on this document in the European Parliament and the Council, and the supposed economic benefits for the EU if more liberal visa regulations are adopted. We pay special attention to the Eastern European states, whose nationals receive around half of all Schengen visas issued globally. Therefore, the discussed Visa Code reform is of particular importance for Eastern Europe, especially Belarus, a direct neighbour of the Schengen area.
We take a stance in the discussion on the future shape of the European visa policy in the time of this so-called migration crisis, and on the eve of political decisions about proposed amendments to the Visa Code. Our recommendation is to adopt the proposed changes to the framework regulation on the EU common visa policy. Although our assessment of the European Commission’s legislative proposal is generally positive, in this brief we critically review and raise some objections to the amendments made by the Council of the EU.
The Policy Brief is prepared by experts of the Stefan Batory Foundation and the Eurasian States in Transition (EAST) Research Centre.
The whole document you can find here: EU Visa Code reform – Batory Foundation policy brief – 30.05.2016Tags: Belarus, Eastern European states, EU Visa Code, EU Visa Code Reform, European visa policy, visa procedures, visa regulations