Digitalisation of visa procedures

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Parecer do CESE: Digitalisation of visa procedures

Key points

The EESC:

  • strongly supports the initiative to introduce a fully digital visa procedure. An accessible, quick and reliable digital visa, and a less paper-based immigration system in general, would significantly reduce the immigration-related administrative burden;
  • welcomes the digitalisation initiative as it is in line with the general EU approach of encouraging the modernisation and digitalisation of public services and with the Commission communication on the 2030 Digital compass;
  • considers that the current proposal is an opportunity to effectively improve the visa application process by reducing the costs and the burden on the Member States as well as on the applicants, and to ensure legal certainty, while also improving the security of the Schengen area.
  • welcomes the fact that the proposed digitalisation of the application procedure will minimise the limitation to mobility of third country nationals that apply for a visa (as they will not have to submit their travel document in person anymore);
  • the digitalisation of the visa application procedure must avoid any (unintended) discrimination: it must respect the rights of persons with disabilities and of persons who are not computer/digital literate or do not have internet access;
  • strongly recommends that the IT solutions used in the EU application platform provide tools/means to safeguard the rights of the child and prevent human trafficking;
  • considers that there should be a single EU-level "EU digital embassy" setting harmonised EU-level requirements for supporting documents and providing information and guidance on the application process for travellers;
  • acknowledges that the digitalisation of the visa procedure could have a positive impact on the environment and that the centralised application platform is an energy-efficient solution;
  • recommends that the Commission make a solid commitment to working with third-country governments, Member State embassies/consulates and organised civil society in order to inform, prepare and assist the applicants throughout the visa application procedure.