Youth Forum calls on Parliament to ease entry into Europe for young people

european-youth-forum-logo2The European Youth Forum has called on the European Parliament and Member States to help young people to travel into Europe by reducing the barriers that they currently face, such as excessive visa fees, delays and extreme administrative requirements.

The Youth Forum’s intervention at a hearing of the Parliament’s Civil liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committee, comes as Parliament is discussing the Visa Code – the legislation that affects issuing of Visas for short stays in the EU of under three months.The Youth Forum called on the Parliamentto take into consideration the demands of civil society and of young people and make the process of travelling into Europe for young people easier and less expensive.

The mobility of young people into and across Europe can provide a vital contribution to society. Mobility contributes to a young person’s personal development, both increasing their employability as well as enhancing intercultural understanding and openness in Europe and internationally. Furthermore, on a broader level, mobility into the EU can also contribute to the economy of a country, not only through direct spending, but also through the creation of jobs in tourism and related sectors.

The Youth Forum, therefore, strongly supports and advocates for mobility without barriers of all young people and is very pleased to see the Parliament picking up again the legislative process on the Visa Code, after the European Commission’s proposal in April last year. It calls, however, for the Parliament to include various key amendments to the Commission’s proposal in order to break down the barriers that currently still exist. For example:

  • A non-EU person has to pay, on average, 270 euros to obtain a visa, with costs highest in general for lowest income countries[1]. The Youth Forum calls for the waiving of visa fees for under 35staking part in events organised by non-profit organisations, including exchanges and volunteering programmes;
  • Too often there are delays in processing applications with visas taking a disproportionately long time to obtain. The Youth Forum calls for a fast-track procedure for young peopleapplying for visas for the purpose of taking part in such events;
  • Some visa applicants haveto travel to other countries to apply for visas due to there not being a consulate of the destination country in their country. The Youth Forum is calling for Common Application Centres to facilitate the process for young people that often do not have the funds to support such trips.
  • Young visa applicants are often discriminated against based on their age, or on circumstances typical of their age – with applicants reporting rejections due, for example, to their inability to prove that they are married! The Youth Forum calls on measures to put an end to such age-based discriminationwhich is in violation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and other legal instruments.

Johanna Nyman, President of the European Youth Forum, comments:

The reality is that for young people from outside the EU, getting a visa is an unnecessarily long, expensive and difficult process. Exchanges and travel for youth work promote intercultural learning, helping to educate young people, and socially include them, whilst also having a proven strong economic impact. We call on the European Parliament, which so far has seemed more receptive than member states on the topic of visa liberalisation – to ensure that young people can be fully mobile, active citizens of Europe and the world. This will have a knock-on beneficial impact in creating a more open and stronger Europe.”

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