Visas: Council adopts a revision of the visa waiver suspension mechanism
27 February 2017, the Council adopted a regulation to revise the
suspension mechanism which can be applied to all existing visa
Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela stated
that, "Visa liberalisation brings great advantages to the EU and third
countries. At the same time, the EU must be able to respond effectively
in cases where the rules are not being respected. The revision of the
suspension mechanism adopted today makes it easier to tackle abuse of
objective of the revised regulation is to strengthen the suspension
mechanism. It does this by making it easier for member states to notify
circumstances which might lead to a suspension, by enabling the
Commission to trigger the mechanism on its own initiative, and by
tasking the Commission to send annual reports to the European Parliament
and Council on the extent to which visa-exempt third countries continue
to meet the necessary criteria.
The possible grounds for suspension have been extended,
and include a decrease in cooperation on readmission, a substantial
increase in the refusal rate of readmission applications, including for
third-country nationals in transit, and a substantial increase in the
risk to public policy or the internal security of the member states.
The use of the mechanism will also be facilitated by shortening reference periods and deadlines in order to allow for a faster procedure.
In particular, the reference period for comparing the circumstances
leading to the suspension with the situation during the previous year or
before visa liberalisation is shortened from six to two months.
The suspension can be triggered by a notification of a member state or by the Commission.
If a simple majority of member states notify, the Commission will have
to adopt an implementing decision temporarily suspending the exemption
from the visa requirement for certain categories of nationals of the
third country concerned for a period of 9 months. During this period,
the Commission shall establish an enhanced dialogue with the third
country concerned to remedy the circumstances in question.
the circumstances persist, the Commission shall adopt (at the latest
two months prior to the expiry of the 9 months) a delegated act
temporarily suspending the visa waiver for a further period of 18
months, for all the nationals of the third country concerned. Before the
end of the period of validity of the delegated act, the Commission
shall submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council. This
report may be accompanied by a legislative proposal to transfer the
reference to the third country concerned from Annex II (visa free
countries) to Annex I (countries whose nationals need a visa to enter
the Schengen area).
A monitoring mechanism has been introduced
with the purpose of ensuring that third countries which have been
granted visa exemption following a visa liberalisation dialogue continue
to fulfil the criteria which were the basis for granting visa free
and the United Kingdom will not be subject to the application of these
measures, in accordance with the protocols annexed to the EU treaties.
The visa regime of these member states remains subject to their national
Council and the European Parliament now need to sign the adopted
regulation. The signed text will be published in the EU Official Journal
and will enter into force 20 days later.