The European Commission wants the digital process for granting visas to enter the Schengen area to be fully functional by 2031, as a measure to facilitate entry into the European Union (EU) and enhance security in the area of free movement.
The digitisation of visas for entry into the Schengen area, included in the New Migration and Asylum Pact, aims to make the process less bureaucratic and costly for Member States and applicants, in addition to strengthening security in this area.
According to information from the community executive, visa applicants will thus be able to request entry authorisation online and make payment through a single EU platform, regardless of the country of destination. The future platform will automatically determine which Schengen country is responsible for reviewing the visa application, particularly if the application includes multiple countries.
The proposal will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, with the European Commission hoping that the future platform can start to be developed in 2024 and be operational in 2026, with a transition period of five years, which implies that only in 2031 will it be able to be used by all Member States.
Moving forward as one
“Today we are taking EU visa policy into the digital age,” said European Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas. “With some Member States already switching to digital, it is vital that the Schengen area now moves forward as one,” he said at a press conference.
For her part, Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johnson added that “a modern visa process is crucial to facilitate travel to the EU, whether for tourism or business”. The commissioner also stressed that “it is high time there was a fast and secure online visa application platform for citizens of 102 countries who apply for short-term permits to travel to the EU”.
The Schengen Area guarantees freedom of movement in a territory that encompasses 26 countries (22 of which are EU Member States, including Portugal) with more than 400 million citizens.