Do propozycji tej odniósł się już dr Marek Porzycki (UJ), który przesłał do Komisji swoje uwagi. Zamieszczam je poniżej:
Dear Sir or Madam,
as a contributor to the public consultation “Improving procedures for obtaining short-stay ‘Schengen’ visas” preceding the drafting of the proposal for the recast of the Visa Code (document COM(2014) 164 final, 1.4.2014) I am very glad that the proposal envisages much needed changes facilitating bona fide visits to the European Union.
However, there is one issue that I would like to raise to your attention, as it may greatly reduce actual benefits of the proposed changes. The proposal runs a risk of making a step back in relation to one important category of applicants, namely those who have already benefited from long-term multiple entry visas under current Article 24(2) of the Visa Code, as well as those that will be granted MEVs under Article 21(5) of the Visa Code in the recast version.
The weak point is that the definition of „VIS registered regular traveller” in Article 2(9) does not take into account such applicants with previously issued MEVs. The requirement to have obtained two visas within the 12 months prior to the application logically includes the fact that the second visa must have already expired. In result the definition of „VIS registered regular traveller” includes only those applicants who have previously obtained two visas of a short validity, in a relatively short sequence. Such requirement will automatically disqualify any applicant holding a previous visa with validity of one year or more. Most applicants holding a previous visa valid for six months would also not qualify.
The definition also excludes previous holders of national visas for long-term stays (“D” type) and residence permits issued by Member States. Applicants who have previously lawfully resided in the EU e.g. for purposes of work or study are usually interested in frequent short visits to the EU after they have returned to their countries of origin. Such applicants should not be forced to re-apply for short term single entry visas in order to gain „VIS registered regular traveller” status, as their integrity and reliability can already be considered proven.
In view of the above, the definition of „VIS registered regular traveller” excludes most applicants from the category of travelers that the proposed visa facilitation measures are intended to attract – applicants with experience of previous travel to the EU, considered reliable enough to qualify for MEVs or residence permits even under the current provisions.
Therefore, proposed facilitation runs the danger of actually benefitting a very small number of applicants due to excessively restrictive criteria.
Recommendation: all of the following categories of applicants registered in the VIS should be included in the definition of „VIS registered regular traveller”:
– applicants who have obtained two visas within the 12 months prior to the application, or
– applicants who have previously held a multiple entry uniform visa, national visa (“D” type) or national residence permit issued by a Member State valid for one year or more, provided that the application is lodged no later than 12 months from the expiry date of that uniform visa, national visa or national residence permit issued by a Member State, or
– applicants who have made two lawful trips to the EU within the 12 months prior to the application.
Such extension of the scope of applicants eligible for mandatory MEVs would not involve any increase in security risk as it would anyway include only applicants with a proven track record of recent lawful visits or stay in the EU.
A small discrepancy also exists between the proposed wording of Article 21(3) and (4) of the Visa Code. Paragraph 3 refers to visas valid for “at least three years” while paragraph 4 mentions only “multiple entry visa valid for three years”. Article 21(4) should cover also those applicants who have received a visa valid for more than 3 years and more clearly provide for continued issuance of subsequent 5 year visas after the expiry of previous such visa. In the latter case the applicants would already have a proven track record of previous lawful use of long-term multiple visas, so it could also be considered to extend the allowed gap between five year visas to 3 years.
Recommended wording: “4. Applicants referred to in paragraph 3 who have lawfully used the multiple entry visa valid for three years or more shall be issued a multiple entry visa valid for five years provided that the application is lodged no later than one year from the expiry date of the multiple entry visa valid for three years or more. Such applicants shall be issued another multiple entry visa valid for five years provided that the application is lodged no later than three years from the expiry date of previous multiple entry visa valid for five years.”
Finally, as some provisions of the recast Visa Code will be more advantageous for the applicants than some of the previously concluded visa facilitation agreements (VFAs), a clarification of the relation between the Visa Code and the VFAs may be considered. A provision of the Visa Code should clearly affirm that in case where the provision of the Visa Code is more beneficial to the applicant than the provision of the relevant VFA, the relevant provision of the Visa Code should be applied.
I hope that the ongoing reform of the visa rules will succeed in making the EU a friendlier destination for legitimate travelers!
Dr Marek Porzycki
Coordinator of Ukrainian Programs
Faculty of Law and Administration