In view of increasing refugee flows and within its ongoing efforts to secure the EU’s external borders, the European Commission is proposing an upgrade to its Visa Information System (VIS).
The improved VIS – which contains information on persons applying for Schengen visas – paves the way for extensive background checks on visa applicants while addressing security information gaps through better information exchange between EU states as well as mutual access to EU-wide databases.
“Every year, millions of non-EU nationals enter the EU with a visa, be it for a short stay or for a longer period. With the upgrade of the Visa Information System, we will remove blind spots in our information systems and give visa authorities and border guards the information they need to do their job properly,” said Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos.
“Criminals and potential terrorists should not be able to come to Europe unnoticed. Europe is not a fortress, but we need to know who is crossing our borders,” he said.
In the meantime, in relevant news, the Commission called on all member states on Tuesday, to show vigilance and readiness to address the recent increasing migratory flows into Europe, including sealing persistent gaps in assets for the European border and coast guard, accelerating and improving returns, boosting resettlement and better protecting migrants along the routes.
“The situation remains fragile due to ongoing migratory pressure, as evidenced by newly increased arrivals along the Eastern and the Western Mediterranean routes,” the Commission said.
Indicatively, arrivals from Turkey have seen a significant increase since March 2018 both to the Greek islands (9,349 since the beginning of 2018) and via the land border (6,108 so far in 2018 – nine times more than during the same period in 2017).
“A reformed Common European Asylum System is a central part of this approach and together with the EU’s long-term budget the EU will be ready to deal with any future migratory crisis. This reform cannot wait and I hope the European Council will be able to reach a deal in June,” said Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.