European Youth Forum welcomes the European Commission’s proposed revision of the Union Code on Visas, however it does not go far enough

european-youth-forum-logoThis week, the Commission released a proposed revision of the Union Code on Visas, which is generally a positive proposal in that it puts in place a number of changes making it easier for visa applicants. However, in not implementing all of the Youth Forum’s demands it still puts limitations on youth mobility.

The revision of the Union Code on Visas has, in several ways, made applying for EU visas easier. For example, the maximum deadline for lodging an application has been increased from three to six months before the intended trip, to allow travellers to plan ahead and avoid peak seasons. In addition, the decision making time for a visa application should be reduced to a maximum of 10 calendar days and up to 20 days in exceptional cases.

These recommendations are a welcome step in the right direction. However, many of the Youth Forum’s calls have been ignored; for example, the Youth Forum called for the waiving of the visa fee for participants in youth activities under the age of 35, however the Commission has left the limit at 25. We also asked for more information and facilities to be given to visa applicants, especially regarding visa fee waivers and more Common Application Centers. This, unfortunately, has not been proposed by the Commission.

The Youth Forum is convinced that mobility of young people is a vital contribution to employability, development of skills, improvement of educational curricula and intercultural understanding both in Europe and internationally. At a time of global change, young people from outside the European Union have a key role in creating social, cultural and economic links between their countries/regions and the EU. Mobility of young people and the freedom to move across borders is a fundamental precondition for ensuring that young people can contribute to community involvement, integration and growth.

Unfortunately, the current Schengen Visa framework creates bureaucratic problems, which jeopardise youth mobility. Some of these can include lengthy and not transparent procedures. The Youth Forum believes that the Schengen visa regime should not discourage young people from becoming active and involved citizens in and within Europe.

The revision of the Code will have to go before the Council and the Parliament, so no outcome is foreseen before 2015. The Youth Forum will continue to advocate for the changes we have suggested and which, so far, have not been implemented.

For more information, see:
revision of the Union Code on Visas

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