New proposal for digital Schengen Visa procedure
The European Commission is proposing the digitalisation of the Schengen visa process, introducing the ability to submit visa applications online through a European online visa platform. Through digitalisation, applying for a Schengen visa will become easier and the visa itself will be more secure and less vulnerable to theft and fraud. A single application platform will provide applicants with one harmonised and seamless application procedure irrespective of the Schengen country they wish to visit. It will enable them to access all their submitted applications in one place. The Commission proposes to gradually phase out the national portals. It will give the possibility to Member states to join the single application platform at EU level as soon as it becomes operational and at the latest five years after its establishment. The proposal is very positive news to Europe and the exhibition sector while the timeline for the implementation can be considered too long.
New proposal for visa-free travel to the EU for Qatar and Kuwait nationals
The European Commission is proposing to lift visa requirements for nationals of Qatar and Kuwait. Under this proposal, once agreed, Qatar and Kuwait nationals holding biometric passports would no longer need a visa when travelling to the EU for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period for business, tourism or family purposes. This proposal comes after the Commission assessed a number of criteria including irregular migration, public policy and security, economic benefits, and the Union’s relations with the two countries. It will contribute to strengthening relations with Gulf countries. The final objective is to ensure regional coherence and ultimately achieve visa free travel to the EU for all Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
It is also a step towards stronger regional coherence in the Gulf region when it comes to visa regimes. The EU will continue engaging with the remaining visa-required Gulf countries that are interested in visa-free travel to the EU. It is now for the European Parliament and the Council to examine the proposal and decide whether to grant visa-free travel to the EU to nationals of Qatar and Kuwait. If the proposal is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the EU will negotiate a visa waiver agreement with Qatar and Kuwait, respectively, to ensure full visa reciprocity for EU citizens.
Legal migration: Attracting skills and talent to the EU
The European Commission is proposing an ambitious and sustainable legal migration policy. As part of the comprehensive approach to migration set out in the Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Commission is proposing legal, operational and policy initiatives that will benefit the EU’s economy, strengthen cooperation with non-EU countries and improve overall migration management in the long term. Annually, 2 to 3 million nationals from non-EU countries come to the EU legally, in contrast to 125,000 to 200,000 irregular arrivals. Legal migration is essential to the EU’s economic recovery, the digital and green transition and to creating safe channels to Europe, while reducing irregular migration.
The proposal represents a common approach to labour migration to address EU skills needs in the long term. The initiative comprises an enhanced legislative framework and stepped-up operational cooperation at EU level between Member States as well as with partner countries.
To this aim, the Commission is proposing the first EU-wide platform and matching tool, an EU Talent Pool, to make the EU more attractive for non-EU nationals looking for opportunities and help employers find the talent they need. To address the urgent need to facilitate access to the labour market for new arrivals from Ukraine, the Commission is proposing a pilot initiative that should be up and running by summer 2022.
Whilst Member States alone decide on the volumes of legal migrants they wish to admit, the EU can support them with practical and operational tools. Over the past two decades, the EU has developed a legal framework largely harmonising Member States’ conditions of entry and residence for non-EU nationals. An evaluation of this legal framework in 2019 underlined that more could be done to increase the impact of the EU legal migration framework on the EU’s demographic and migration challenges.