MEPs voted today in favour of simplifying existing visa application rules for non-EU nationals when travelling to Europe. The aim of the reforms is to make Europe a more attractive destination for bona fide travellers and to better respond to the current migratory and security situation on the continent.
The proposals include:
· increasing the Schengen visa fee from 60 to EUR 80, to provide sufficient financial resources for visa processing (with discounted rates for minors);
· applications can be submitted 9 months before the start of the intended journey (instead of the current 6 months);
· applicants can use any EU consulates when the competent Member State’s consulate is more than 500 kilometres away from their residency;
· travel medical insurance will no longer be obligatory when applying for a short stay visa;
· the new visa policy will be linked to readmission cooperation of third countries and broader EU external policy.
Gérard Deprez MEP (MR, Belgium), ALDE’s shadow rapporteur of the file commented:
“I welcome the vote in favour of the report on the Visa Code. While preserving security at the external borders and ensuring the smooth functioning of the Schengen area we have managed to simplify the legal framework of visa application procedures.
I am also in favour of using visa policy to encourage cooperation by the third countries in the readmission procedures, as long as they also include positive incentives (eg. Visa fee reductions) and not only sanctions for countries that do not cooperate with the Commission.”