EU visa rules to be eased, boosting group travel

EU’s common visa policy will be implemented shortly, make it easier for legitimate travellers to obtain a visa to travel to Europe – facilitating tourism, trade and business, whilst strengthening security and reducing illegal migration risks.

The new rules will allow travellers to submit their applications up to six months before their proposed travel, instead of the current three months, and applications may be submitted electronically. Frequent travellers with a good visa history are likely to receive a multiple-entry visa with increased validity from one year to a maximum of five years, saving time and costs for applicants. In view of significantly increased processing costs over the past years, a moderate increase of the visa fee, ranging from €60 to €80, will be introduced.

MICE stakeholders in India are bullish about this development. Sushil Wadhwa, chairman of Platinum World Grroup, said: “It is a very good proposal as all our MICE clients are legitimate, frequent travellers with complete clarity of purpose. Long term visas will encourage more frequent travel, be it for business, meetings or incentives, to a variety of destinations in Europe.”

The agreement will now have to be endorsed by the European Parliament. The European Parliament and the Council will then have to formally adopt the regulation. The adopted text will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and the new rules will apply six months later.

Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Migration and Citizenship, said: “The new visa rules will facilitate travel for the millions of legitimate travellers who visit the EU every year to the benefit of our travel and tourism industry. At the same time, they will also improve and strengthen our security standards to detect those who pose a threat or have no right to enter the EU. The new rules will also enable us to use the leverage of our visa policy in cooperation with non-EU countries when it comes to the return and readmission of irregular migrants.”

The Commission also proposes to upgrade the Visa Information System, the database containing information on applicants for Schengen visas, which will constitute a part of the reform of the common EU visa policy, aiming for increased security.