Questions and Answers – Temporary visa measures for Bangladesh, Iraq and The Gambia

(Source: European Commission)

How is the cooperation on readmission linked to EU visa policy?

Over the past years, the EU has been stepping up its activities to support Member States in returning people with no right to stay in the EU to their countries of origin. Despite readmission of own nationals being an obligation under international law, return, readmission and reintegration are a common challenge for the EU and its partner countries. To address this the revised Visa Code links the EU’s short-stay visa policy to cooperation with partner countries on readmission.

Under the new rules, the Commission conducts, at least once a year, an assessment of how non-EU countries cooperate on readmission, taking into account specific indicators. The first such Commission assessment was adopted on 10 February 2021. A press release and a communication are available online.

Member States that encounter substantial and persistent readmission problems with a given non-EU country may also notify the Commission of such a situation. Such notifications are assessed by the Commission.

On the basis of its own assessment or following a Member State’s notification, the Commission, taking into account the steps already taken to improve the level of cooperation with the partner country concerned, as well as the Union’s overall relations with the partner country, may propose stricter or more favourable conditions for the processing of visa applications.

What are the temporary visa restrictions? What does it mean for people from Bangladesh, Iraq and The Gambia?

Visa restrictions do not preclude an applicant’s right to submit an application for a visa or to be granted a visa.

The measures mean that all applicants have to submit a full set of documentary evidence and that the 15 calendar days processing period as well as the issuing of multiple entry visas will be suspended. The optional visa fee waiver for holders of diplomatic and service passports should also be suspended.

Why have no other countries been proposed for such measures?

The Commission’s February 2020 assessment highlighted other partner countries where there is a clear EU interest in intensifying engagement to improve readmission cooperation. Engagement with these countries, for example through migration dialogues, is ongoing.

What improvements in readmission cooperation are expected from the three countries?  

Substantial and sustained improvement in cooperation is expected from Bangladesh, Iraq and The Gambia. For example, progress is needed in processing the accumulated backlog of readmission cases submitted by Member States, in ensuring that deadlines for the issuing of travel documents and on lifting restrictions on return operations.

When will the next assessment report be available?

In cooperation with Frontex, the Commission launched the second exercise and Member States are providing their input to the information and data collection, which will serve to assess the cooperation on readmission in 2020 – a year where COVID-19 related measures significantly affected cooperation.

As was the case for the previous exercise, visa-free countries are by default excluded from the assessment. Performance on readmission cooperation by visa-free countries is monitored in the framework of the visa suspension mechanism.

For More Information

Press Release: Visa Code: The Commission proposes temporary measures for Bangladesh, Iraq and The Gambia to improve cooperation on return and readmission

Proposal for a Council Implementing Decision on temporary visa measures with respect to Bangladesh

Proposal for a Council Implementing Decision on temporary visa measures with respect to Iraq

Proposal for a Council Implementing Decision on temporary visa measures with respect to The Gambia

Communication: Enhancing cooperation on return and readmission as part of a fair, effective and comprehensive EU migration policy

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