The European Commission wants the digital process for issuing visas to enter the Schengen area to be digital and fully functional by 2031.
This measure has as main objectives, the facilitation of entry into the European Union (EU) and the strengthening of security in the area of free movement.
On the 27th of April, the digitization of visas for entering the Schengen area, included in the New Migration and Asylum Pact, was presented, and aims to make the process less bureaucratic and costly for Member States and applicants, in addition to reinforcing the security in this area.
In this sense, visa applicants will be able to request entry authorization online and make payment through a single EU platform, regardless of the country of destination. Thus, the future platform will automatically determine which country in the Schengen area is responsible for analyzing the visa application, particularly if the application includes several countries.
This proposal presented, to enter into force, will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, with the European Commission waiting for the future platform to be developed in 2024 and to be operational in 2026, with a transition period of five years, which implies that it will only be used by all Member States in 2031.
The European Commissioner for the Promotion of the European Way of Life, in a press conference, indicated that the idea is to take the EU’s visa policy into the digital age. He said, therefore, that, with the shift of some Member States to digital, it is vital that the Schengen area advances as one.
For her part, the Commissioner for Home Affairs added that a modern visa process is crucial to facilitate travel to the EU, whether for tourism or business. In her view, it is high time there was a fast and secure online visa application platform for citizens of 102 countries who apply for short-term permission to travel to the EU.
It should also be noted that 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.
At this point, we can only wait for the proposal to be approved, and if so, adapt to the new reality.