On 24 June, EUFED participated at the event on EU Visa Package at the European Parliament which was organized by European Tourism and Travel Advisory Group (ETAG) together with European Parliament Intergroup for Tourism and Culture & Tourism Task Force. A number of MEPs and tourism stakeholders interested in the topic participated at the discussion.
On 1 July, EUFED welcomed a draft opinion by MEP Istvan Ujhelyi in the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism on the European Commission’s proposal for a regulation on the Union Code on Visas (Visa Code) and on the proposal for a regulation establishing a touring visa.
EUFED believes that the proposed amendments clarified many provisions in the draft regulations.
More precisely, EUFED welcomed and supported particularly the following amendments:
The proposal for a regulation on the Union Code on Visas (Visa Code)
- Amendment 3, Article 5 – paragraph 2 – introductory part. EUFED is in favour of the proposed amendment to extend the possibility for the applicant to lodge the application at the consulate of one of the Member States of destination of the envisaged visit, or at the consulate of the Member State of first entry, if previous is not applicable, or in all other cases at the consulate of any of the Member States that are present in the country concerned, if the nearest consulate or Schengen Visa Centre is located more than 500 km away from the applicant's place of residence, or if a return journey by public transport from the applicant's place of residence would require an overnight stay. Taking into account the statistics of overnight stays at EU-based youth hostels in 2014, the biggest tourist flows are coming from the United States, Australia, China, Brazil, Russia and Canada. EUFED is convinced that this proposed change will create more convenience for applicants living in large countries.
- Amendment 6. Article 21 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1. EUFED supports the extension of a period of validity of a multiply entry visa from 5 up to 10 years. Providing multiple entry visas of 10 years to legitimate travellers will help EU based youth hostels to attract more tourists or their groups from third countries. Based on statistics of 2014, EU-based youth hostels had around 23 million overnights stays which counts for 69% of the whole world youth hostels market. However, making access to the Schengen area easier for legitimate travellers from third countries is essential as 76% of overnight stays at EU-based youth hostels were domestic and only 24% of a foreign origin. We are convinced that by simplifying the current procedures, inducing more cost savings and less bureaucracy, whilst striking the right balance between economic and security needs, the economic activity and job creation in tourism and related sectors will be boosted.
- Amendment 10. Article 45 – paragraph 4. EUFED is in favour of the Commission’s proposal to establish a Schengen visa Internet website containing all relevant information relating to the application for a visa and the amendment to have such a website in the main language of the five third countries with the highest number of Schengen visa applications. We believe that a website should be created automatically in all official Union languages because the European Commission is working with all existent EU languages. In addition, EUFED suggests extending the proposed amount of languages of 5 countries with the highest number of Schengen visa applications at least up to 10. Looking at the recent data, top 5 countries with the highest number of Schengen visa applications are: Russia, Ukraine, China, Turkey and Belarus. Taking into account that India is covered by the EU official language (English), there are still no Arab countries in the list. Arab language is crucial taking into acount the current Mediterranean migration crisis.
- Amendment 11. Annex II – part A – point 3 – point a. EUFED agrees with the proposed amendment for visa applicant to provide evidence of sufficient means to cover accommodation, as documents relating to accommodation might not be adequate to prove that the traveller will actually stay in a hostel or other accommodation.
The proposal for a regulation establishing a touring visa and amending the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement and Regulations
EUFED supports the Commission’s proposal to introduce a new type of visa (‘touring visa’) for both visa-exempt and visa-requiring third-country nationals planning to circulate in the territory of two or more Member States for more than 90 days, for a maximum of 1 year (with the possibility of extension up to 2 years), provided that the applicant does not intend to stay for more than 90 days in any 180-day period in the territory of the same Member State. EUFED believes that young people can benefit the most from staying longer than 90 days in any 180-day period in the Schengen area as they are always ready to explore more new things and destinations.