Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council. A smarter visa policy for economic growth

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Series Details (2014) 165 final (01.04.14)
Publication Date 01/04/2014
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A common visa policy is a fundamental component of the creation of a common area without internal borders. The Schengen acquis on visa policy established in the framework of the Schengen intergovernmental cooperation was incorporated into the institutional and legal framework of the European Union following the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam.

The Visa Code sets out harmonised procedures and conditions for issuing short-stay visas. The Code was a ‘recast’ and consolidation of all legal acts governing the conditions and procedures for issuing short-stay visas and repealed obsolete parts of the ‘Schengen acquis’. The recast covered the ‘Common Consular Instructions’, as well as parts of the Schengen Convention and 11 ‘Schengen Executive Committee’ Decisions. Additionally, the Joint Action 96/197/JHA of 4 March 1996 on airport transit arrangements was incorporated into the Union legal framework.

Consolidation, and therefore simplification, of the legal framework was one aim of the Visa Code. Another was to facilitate legitimate travel and to tackle irregular immigration through further harmonisation of the way in which local consular missions of the Member States deal with visa applications. The aim of facilitating legitimate travel was to be achieved, inter alia, on the premise that frequent and regular travellers known to consulates should be able to get a visa more easily than unknown, first-time applicants.

The Visa Code has greatly improved Schengen visa procedures since its entry into force three years ago, but the world has not stood still, and objectives and priorities have evolved. The need to ensure more consistency among the Union’s policies (e.g. according to Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union the Union shall take cultural aspects into account in its action under other provisions of the Treaties) as well as the current economic outlook have led to the addition of ‘generation of growth’ as another objective of the common visa policy.

In this context, more coherence should also be ensured with trade policies. The latter could for instance be achieved by taking into account trade relations, including trade agreements, when considering negotiating visa facilitation agreements.

This report has been drawn up against this background. It identifies further improvements that can be made to achieve a smarter common visa policy, which also increases the attractiveness of the EU for business, researchers, students and artists and culture professionals and which responds to current and future challenges.

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EUR-Lex: COM(2014)165: Follow the progress of this report through the decision-making procedure
EUR-Lex: SWD(2014)101: Evaluation of the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 of the European Parliament and Council establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code)
ESO: Background information: More flexible visa rules to boost growth and job creation

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