The European Commission wants to make it easier to prevent visa-free travel to the EU. The European Union executive has introduced a draft law to make this possible. In this way, the Committee wants to combat illegal immigration.
Citizens of sixty non-EU countries can come to Europe without a visa. They may remain there for a maximum of ninety days. According to the committee, it could bring “economic, social and cultural benefits” and boost tourism and business.
In 2019, nearly 400 million people used it, according to European Commission figures.
But the committee also sees risks. For example, people travel from a country that requires an EU visa to a country that does not and from there travel illegally to the EU.
The committee wants to be given the option to suspend visa-free travel from certain countries for a longer period of time. This is now allowed for a maximum of 27 months. The maximum period should be 36 months.
The Commission also wants to make it easier to terminate agreements with a partner country, for example if a non-EU country has a more flexible visa policy than the EU itself. According to Brussels, there is a risk that people will illegally travel to the EU via a partner country, as happened from Serbia.
If the number of asylum applications from partner countries suddenly increases sharply, it should become easier to temporarily halt visa-free travel.
CDA MEP Jeroen Lenaers is happy with this proposal. It states that visa-free travel “should not become a back door to illegal immigration.”
With the rules modified, illegal immigration could be better curbed, Lehners says. “The benefits of visa-free travel can only be enjoyed by countries that use it responsibly and reliably. This updated law finally gives us the tools to quickly intervene when countries fail to do so.”
Thes Röten of the PvdA party says the proposal is an ineffective way to combat immigration. “It sounds great, but it will have little effect,” says Wroten. According to him, the emergency procedure is necessary “to be able to act quickly if an emergency actually occurs.”
Migration scientist Hein de Haas considers the committee’s proposal reasonable. “However, the European Union must carefully consider whether visa restrictions encourage migrants not to return or end up illegally,” he adds. According to De Haas, research shows that “the more difficult it is to come, the more migrants stay.”
The draft law was sent to the European Parliament and EU ministers today. They must first take their own position on the proposal. Then they will negotiate the final ruling.
“Lifelong zombie fanatic. Hardcore web practitioner. Thinker. Music expert. Unapologetic pop culture scholar.”