Revision of the EU visa policy: Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment

18-11-2014

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the proposal on the Union Code on Visas. The Visa Code established by Regulation 810/2009 is an essential element of the common visa policy the development of which was a pre-requisite to the creation of a common area without internal borders.The Visa Code sets out harmonised procedures and conditions for issuing short-stay visas, so called Schengen visas (authorizing their holder to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180 days period). The Code, which was a recast and consolidation of all relevant legislation on the issuing of short stay 'Schengen' visas, entered into force in April 2010 with the overarching objectives of facilitating legitimate travel and tackling irregular immigration. In the Commission's IA, the problems to be addressed are explained in a very clear manner, as is the presentation of the options. Uncertainties are recognised and considerable effort has been made to substantiate the IA with concrete evidence, even though this has proved difficult for well explained reasons. Member States’ concerns regarding security issues linked with the mandatory MEVs with long validity or the new ‘touring’ authorization, could have been better explained, however. Also, the fact that the proposal under consideration provides for a reduced time limit for examining applications seems surprising given the suggestion in the IA that this would not be an effective solution. Finally, putting aside the fact that the IA itself does not consider the creation of two separate legal instruments, it is not clear why the IA was not presented with both proposals jointly as a package, given that it covers the visa issue as a whole. This note, prepared by the Ex-Ante Impact Assessment Unit for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament, analyses whether the principal criteria laid down in the Commission’s own Impact Assessment Guidelines, as well as additional factors identified by the Parliament in its Impact Assessment Handbook, appear to be met by the IA. It does not attempt to deal with the substance of the proposal. It is drafted for informational and background purposes to assist the relevant parliamentary committee(s) and Members more widely in their work.

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's Impact Assessment (IA) accompanying the proposal on the Union Code on Visas. The Visa Code established by Regulation 810/2009 is an essential element of the common visa policy the development of which was a pre-requisite to the creation of a common area without internal borders.The Visa Code sets out harmonised procedures and conditions for issuing short-stay visas, so called Schengen visas (authorizing their holder to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180 days period). The Code, which was a recast and consolidation of all relevant legislation on the issuing of short stay 'Schengen' visas, entered into force in April 2010 with the overarching objectives of facilitating legitimate travel and tackling irregular immigration. In the Commission's IA, the problems to be addressed are explained in a very clear manner, as is the presentation of the options. Uncertainties are recognised and considerable effort has been made to substantiate the IA with concrete evidence, even though this has proved difficult for well explained reasons. Member States’ concerns regarding security issues linked with the mandatory MEVs with long validity or the new ‘touring’ authorization, could have been better explained, however. Also, the fact that the proposal under consideration provides for a reduced time limit for examining applications seems surprising given the suggestion in the IA that this would not be an effective solution. Finally, putting aside the fact that the IA itself does not consider the creation of two separate legal instruments, it is not clear why the IA was not presented with both proposals jointly as a package, given that it covers the visa issue as a whole. This note, prepared by the Ex-Ante Impact Assessment Unit for the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament, analyses whether the principal criteria laid down in the Commission’s own Impact Assessment Guidelines, as well as additional factors identified by the Parliament in its Impact Assessment Handbook, appear to be met by the IA. It does not attempt to deal with the substance of the proposal. It is drafted for informational and background purposes to assist the relevant parliamentary committee(s) and Members more widely in their work.