The Council of the European Union (EU) and the European Parliament today reached agreement on changes to the European visa system to increase security in the Schengen area, increasing vigilance over short-term and residence permits.
“In response to the challenges of migration and security, the EU is improving its Visa Information System [VIS], an instrument used by the authorities to register and verify people applying for a short-stay visa to enter the Schengen area ”, informs the EU Council in a statement.
In this context, according to the structure in which the Member States are represented, “the German Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament reached an interim agreement today on the main political elements of a draft regulation amending the regulation on the VIS”
In particular, after the entry into force of this new regulation, there will be an increase in the security of the short-stay visa procedure and long-term permits and residence permits will be covered by this control system.
Until now, VIS only collected information on short-stay visas, but that will change with the agreement reached today, since all these permits allow free movement within the Schengen area.
At the same time, the VIS will become interconnected with “other relevant EU systems and databases”, namely the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Entry and Exit System (EES), the European Information Authorization System (ETIAS), data from the European police service (Europol) and the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) and also with Eurodac, which stores fingerprints of asylum seekers and migrants.
Another of the planned changes is the digitalization of the biographical data page of the travel documents, which will now be available in digital format.
To combat child trafficking, the age for taking fingerprints from children will be reduced from 12 to six years.
An upper age limit will also be introduced, including fingerprints of people over 75 years of age not included in the VIS.
In addition, the current photograph on paper will be replaced by a live facial image with sufficient resolution and image quality to be used in automated biometric correspondence.
Social Democratic MEP Paulo Rangel, European Parliament negotiator for the European visa system, welcomes in a statement these changes, arguing that the VIS reform agreement “substantially increases the capacity to fight organized crime and terrorism , having an impact on long-term visas, including the famous ‘gold visas’ ”, ie residence permits for investment in the EU.
“From 2023 onwards, it will be almost impossible to enter the EU with false documents”, says Paulo Rangel, stressing that “the enormous reinforcement of the protection of children against trafficking networks” is also very important.
Created in 2011, VIS is a database with biographical (name, sex, age) and biometric (photo and fingerprint) data of third-country nationals authorized to move within the Schengen area.
Also applying to ‘gold visas’, this system is addressed to the authorities responsible for borders, asylum and migration.
The reform now agreed has an estimated cost of 250 million and is expected to be implemented in 2023.