(Forslag) Europaparlaments- og rådsforordning (EU) .../... om endring av forordning (EU) 2018/1806 med hensyn til revisjon av visumfritaksmekanismen
EUs visumpolitikk: revisjon av visumfritaksmekanismen
BAKGRUNN (fra kommisjonsforslaget 18.10.2023)
Visa-free travel brings significant benefits for the EU and partners around the globe. It makes travel more convenient and is an important tool to promote people-to-people contacts, tourism, economic development and cultural exchange. The EU currently has a visa-free regime in place with 60 third countries 1 . Under this regime, nationals from these countries can enter the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. The EU’s visa-free policy is based on the principle of visa reciprocity.
Visa-free travel brings key benefits for citizens on both sides, strengthening further the EU relations with its partners. It boosts the travel and tourism sector, which, according to OECD estimates, accounted for around 7% of global exports in 2019 and contributed around 4.4% of GDP of OECD countries. Visa-free travel also promotes cultural and academic exchanges. It also fosters diplomatic relations and international cooperation, leading to increased political interactions in different areas ranging from trade and economic cooperation, security, innovation and technology.
The number of travellers between the EU and visa-free non-EU countries in 2019 was 364.8 million. This represents a 7% increase from 2018.
At the same time, the Commission’s monitoring of the EU’s visa-free regimes, including its reports under the Visa Suspension Mechanism, has shown that visa-free travel can also be the source of significant migration and security challenges.
Visa-free travel can result in increased irregular migration through overstays by visa-free travellers or through asylum applications lodged in high numbers by nationals from visa-free third countries with low recognition rates (unfounded asylum applications). Furthermore, in some cases insufficient visa alignment with the EU visa policy can turn a visa-free country into a transit hub for irregular entry to the EU.
In addition, investor citizenship schemes operated by third countries with visa-free access to the EU can result in risks or threats to the public policy or internal security of the Member States, including those related to infiltration of organised crime, money-laundering, tax evasion and corruption. Investor citizenship schemes aim to attract investment by granting investors from third countries citizenship rights of the country concerned, under less stringent conditions than under ordinary naturalisation regimes. Where third-country nationals that would otherwise be visa-required for the EU acquire citizenship of a visa-free country thanks to such schemes, they can use them to bypass the regular short-stay visa procedure and the assessment of migration and security risks it entails.
The security and the external borders of the Member States have been profoundly impacted by recent geopolitical events, demonstrating that foreign interference may pose serious threats to the Member States’ security. In October 2021, the European Council adopted conclusions inviting the Commission to propose changes to the EU legal framework to ensure an appropriate response to hybrid attacks. The visa suspension mechanism would be part of the EU’s toolbox to respond to hybrid threats, such as the state-sponsored instrumentalisation of migrants.
The suspension mechanism, established in Regulation (EU) 2018/1806, is a safeguard against the abuse of visa-free travel. This mechanism enables the temporary suspension of the visa exemption in case of a sudden and substantial increase in irregular migration or security risks. However, with increasing challenges resulting from irregular migration, and threats to the secruity of the EU, it became clear that this mechanism needed to be further strengthened and improved.
Therefore, on 20 March 2023, in her letter to the European Council, President von der Leyen proposed that ‘the Commission will strengthen its monitoring of the visa policy alignment and will present a comprehensive report paving the way for a legislative proposal amending the visa suspension mechanism’. Therefore, on 30 May 2023, the Commission adopted a Communication on the monitoring of the EU’s visa-free travel regimes setting out a consultation process. The Communication looked at the functioning of the EU’s visa-free regimes and identified the main challenges in the areas of irregular migration and security.
In order to effectively address the multitude of challenges resulting from visa-free travel in a constantly evolving geopolitical context and taking into account the consultation with the European Parliament, Member States and other stakeholders, this proposal aims to adapt the suspension mechanism to such challenges, by amending the relevant provisions set out in Article 8 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1806.