The European Parliament today adopted its position for negotiations with the Member States on the new Visa Code. Thanks to the EPP Group’s efforts, the new rules link returns of illegal migrants with visa policy towards third countries.

“More than half a million illegally staying third country nationals were ordered to leave the EU. Yet only 36% of them returned to their home countries. The new rules on Schengen visas will reverse these trends. Despite the long-standing opposition of the Socialists, we are filling a gap in European security and migration policy by creating a clear link between accepting illegally staying migrants back home to their countries of origin and granting visas to persons from those countries. The new Visa Code will be a driving force for third countries’ cooperation in migration,” said Heinz Becker, EPP Group Spokesperson on the new legislation.

“Europe is not a fortress. Almost 14 million short-term Schengen visas were issued only last year. With a fully digital and shorter visa application process, as well as the introduction of multiple entry visas for regular travellers, we expect this number to grow. A stronger economy and richer European culture will be the ultimate result of this. With Visa Code we simply welcome all travellers to Europe for business or pleasure and discourage those who don’t play by the rules,” added Heinz Becker.

The EU Visa Code, dating back to 2010, is a set of rules on application processing and issuing short stay visas to the EU, which do not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.