Revision of the visa code

06-03-2018

The EU common visa code (the Visa Code) was adopted in 2009 by means of Regulation 810/2009. It establishes the procedures and conditions for issuing short-stay visas for entry into and transit through the Schengen area. This type of visa is valid for up to three months, whereas long-term visas (or residence permits) remain subject to national procedures. Regulation 767/2008 on the Visa Information System (VIS) defines the purpose and functionalities of the VIS, the computerised system aimed at facilitating the exchange of data between EU Member States and associated countries applying the common visa policy. Since its adoption, EU policy as regards short-term visas has faced a significant challenge: the delicate equilibrium between the need to promote economic growth via mobility and tourism, on the one hand, and the need to ensure the security of the Schengen area, on the other. Assessments of the implementation of the Visa Code and the VIS have shown that the requirements for obtaining a Schengen visa have had a negative impact on tourism and as a result, on EU economic growth. That said, the extent to which the provisions of the Visa Code have contributed to preserving the security of the external borders is difficult to evaluate, since the full deployment of the VIS (both at consular posts worldwide and at Schengen border crossing points) was completed relatively recently (2016). In its work programme for 2018, the European Commission announced that proposals will be tabled to revise the Visa Code and upgrade the VIS. The revision of the Visa Code, in particular, will aim at overcoming divisions triggered by the visa package submitted by the Commission in 2014. Thus far, the co-legislators have not reached an agreement on this set of measures. On the other hand, efforts to upgrade the VIS will be aimed at enhancing visa processing further, among other things through improving law enforcement authorities' access to the VIS, including new categories of data in the system, and ensuring the interoperability of the VIS with the other existing large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice.

The EU common visa code (the Visa Code) was adopted in 2009 by means of Regulation 810/2009. It establishes the procedures and conditions for issuing short-stay visas for entry into and transit through the Schengen area. This type of visa is valid for up to three months, whereas long-term visas (or residence permits) remain subject to national procedures. Regulation 767/2008 on the Visa Information System (VIS) defines the purpose and functionalities of the VIS, the computerised system aimed at facilitating the exchange of data between EU Member States and associated countries applying the common visa policy. Since its adoption, EU policy as regards short-term visas has faced a significant challenge: the delicate equilibrium between the need to promote economic growth via mobility and tourism, on the one hand, and the need to ensure the security of the Schengen area, on the other. Assessments of the implementation of the Visa Code and the VIS have shown that the requirements for obtaining a Schengen visa have had a negative impact on tourism and as a result, on EU economic growth. That said, the extent to which the provisions of the Visa Code have contributed to preserving the security of the external borders is difficult to evaluate, since the full deployment of the VIS (both at consular posts worldwide and at Schengen border crossing points) was completed relatively recently (2016). In its work programme for 2018, the European Commission announced that proposals will be tabled to revise the Visa Code and upgrade the VIS. The revision of the Visa Code, in particular, will aim at overcoming divisions triggered by the visa package submitted by the Commission in 2014. Thus far, the co-legislators have not reached an agreement on this set of measures. On the other hand, efforts to upgrade the VIS will be aimed at enhancing visa processing further, among other things through improving law enforcement authorities' access to the VIS, including new categories of data in the system, and ensuring the interoperability of the VIS with the other existing large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice.