By Buba Gagigo
The European Commission proposed to the Council to adopt temporary restrictions for short-stay visa applicants from Gambia, Bangladesh, and Iraq.
“…the Commission is proposing to the [European] Council to adopt temporary restrictive measures on short-stay visas for visa applicants who are nationals of Bangladesh, Iraq and The Gambia. Under the revised Visa Code in force since February 2020, the EU’s short-stay visa policy is linked to cooperation with partner countries on readmitting their nationals who do not have the right to stay in the EU,” the commission announced on 15th July 2021.
It added that the proposals adopted aim to improve the cooperation of The Gambia, Bangladesh and Iraq with the Member States on readmission; saying “effective return and readmission as well as sustainable reintegration are essential elements of comprehensive, balanced, tailor-made and mutually beneficial migration partnerships with countries outside the EU.”
The release further stated that the measures that the Commission proposed against Gambian nationals and the others cover the following procedural aspects for issuing short-stay visas:
“Suspension of waiver of certain supporting documents for certain categories of applicants (e.g. bona fide travellers);
“Suspension of optional visa fee waiver for holders of diplomatic passports;
“Suspension of the maximum processing time (beyond 15 days);
“Suspension of the mandatory issuance of multiple entry visas with a long validity,” it said.
However, the restrictive measures do not apply to visa applicants who are family members of EU citizens or other beneficiaries of free movement in the EU.
According to the announcement, the Commission would continue its engagement and work with The Gambia, Bangladesh, and Iraq to improve cooperation on readmission as part of its continued overall engagement with them.
It also indicated that the Council would also examine the Commission’s proposals for Implementing Decisions and take a decision on their adoption. The temporary short-stay visas restrictive measures on The Gambia and co would come into force immediately upon adoption, the Council.
“Within 6 months of the measures entering into force, the Commission must report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the progress achieved. The Commission may then propose to repeal or amend these visa measures, taking into account the Union’s overall relations with the countries concerned [The Gambia, Bangladesh, and Iraq]. In particular, in case the current measures are ineffective, the Commission could propose a further measure, namely a gradual increase of the standard visa fee to €120 [approximately D7, 276] or a maximum of €160, [approximately D9, 701], ” the commission said in the statement.
The Commission said that it would continue its engagement with The Gambia, Bangladesh, and Iraqto improve cooperation and overall relations with them to maintain a transparent and constructive partnership approach, which encourages rapid progress on readmission.
Meanwhile, the readmission of own nationals by countries is an obligation under international law. Under the revised Visa Code, the European Commission yearly evaluates readmission cooperation with non-EU countries and reports to the European Council. Then, temporary restrictions on certain short-stay may be introduced vis-à-vis, for non-EU countries whose nationals require visas to travel to the EU, where cooperation on readmission is not yet deemed sufficient in their countries.
The process supports wider efforts to bring about effective and comprehensive migration management in the European Union bloc under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum. It also strengthens the external dimension of migration policy and it does not only include the readmission dimension, but also addressing migrant smuggling, improving the use of EU funding, and fostering legal migration and mobility by non-EU countries.