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15 Mar 2019

MEPs Approve Amendment of EU Visa Information System in a Bid to Improve Security

EU ParliamentMembers of the European Parliament have backed a proposal on the amendment of the Schengen Visa Information System (VIS) on Wednesday, in a bid to enhance security and ensure a better EU response to migratory challenges. The upgraded VIS is also supposed to improve the EU’s external border management.

Rapporteur Carlos Coelho from the Group of the European People’s Party and the Portuguese Social Democrat Party said after the approval, that the new VIS closes the information gaps in the EU’s security strategy.

Today we approved a VIS that closes the information gaps in our security strategy. Golden visas will be screened as never before, in Europe. Security checks will be harmonized across the continent, with increased cooperation between consular authorities, border guards and police officers. We will have better tools for return. We will prevent child trafficking and identify criminals and terrorists better. This is a future-proof VIS,” Rapporteur Coelho said.

The proposal on the reform of the Visa Information System was adopted with 522 votes pro, 122 against and 31 abstentions. The EU Parliament and Council still have to negotiate on the final wording of the bill.

The new upgraded Visa Information System means:

  • Enhanced Security checks across all databases.
  • Better data and information exchange between the Schengen countries.
  • More efficient return procedures for those overstaying.
  • Strengthened capacity to prosecute and prevent crime.

However, the MEPs want to add some several additional reforms to the database, aside of the ones proposed. These reforms are:

  • Security checks across all EU databases should become compulsory, in order to identify applicants using multiple identities.
  • The database should include long-stay visas, as well as the so-called golden visas and residence permits in order to close the security information gaps.
  • Submitting biometrics should be mandatory for applicants from the age of six and up (and not 12 as it has been so far). This proposal is supposed to help identify and trace missing children.
  • Better access should be given to Europol and other enforcement authorities to the VIS data.

In May 2018, the European Commission proposed changes for the Visa Information System for the first time, aiming a better responding to the evolving changes on security and migration. In December last year, the European Council backed the proposal passing it to the European Parliament.

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