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What’s happening with visas this week?

11 December 2018

What’s happening with visas this week?

New updates to the EU’s Visa Code have been voted by MEPs today. The changes will facilitate better access to short stay visas to the EU for business travellers and tourists from third countries. However, the European Parliament has on numerous occasions attempted to introduce so called ‘European humanitarian visas’ into the legislation.

​New updates to the EU’s Visa Code have been voted by MEPs today. The changes will facilitate better access to short stay visas to the EU for business travellers and tourists from third countries. As part of the revisions the ECR Group were keen to ensure that third countries who are beneficiaries of the scheme are at the same time incentivised to cooperate with the readmission of illegal and irregular migrants returned from the EU.

However, while the Visa Code should be concerned only with these types of short stay visas, the European Parliament has on numerous occasions attempted to introduce so called ‘European humanitarian visas’ into the legislation. To be issued at EU embassies and consulates abroad on humanitarian grounds, the visas would grant free passage to the Schengen area. In our view the humanitarian visas would become a travel enabler rather than providing a robust form of assessment of an applicant’s claim for international protection before they travel to the EU. In addition, they would inevitably overwhelm Member State embassies and consulates, turning them into visa and asylum processing centres. Despite also failing to convince the Council or Commission during negotiations on the Visa Code, and seeing them subsequently removed from the final agreement, the Civil Liberties Committee have submitted their own separate initiative calling for the introduction of legislation on Humanitarian Visas. After failing to secure the required majority for their proposals in a vote last month, they have been re-submitted, in the hope of garnering more support. This undermines and goes completely against the underlying principle of parliamentary votes and distracts from the necessary steps that actually need to be taken to effectively solve our current migration issues.

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