Unexpectedly early, the Council of the European Union (the institution that consists of the heads of state or government) adopted a common position on the revision of the Visa Directive on the 9th of December. It was initially expected for this process to take much longer, well into the 2nd quarter of 2015. So that’s the good news.
EEE-YFU is disappointed to see that the Council removed many of the positive provisions that were proposed by the EU Commission and by the EU Parliament:
- The Directive would only be optional for secondary school students and volunteers, while it would be obligatory for researchers and university students.
- Each country in the European Union would have the possibility to fix their visa fees. The Directive only indicates that visa fees should not be disproportionate or excessive.
- Countries in the European Union would not be obliged to put in place an accreditation system for hosting entities (such as YFU organisations). Anyways, countries would have the opportunity, if they wish so, to put in place an approval procedure for hosting entities. Approved organisations would have some advantages with visa procedures.
- Possibility of higher costs for YFU for document translation: in order to get a visa, the student may be asked to present the documents and information in the official language of the country where she/he will go.
- Countries are allowed to consider volunteers as labour force; this means that a volunteer coming from a non-European country may be refused a visa because she/he does not comply with the existing immigration quotas.
- Together with our partners of the European Youth Forum, we issued a ‘reaction’ to the Council Position. Please help us disseminate it!
- Since the Directive will soon enter the so called “trilogue” (informal negotiations between the EU Commission, the EU Parliament, and the EU Council), your help will be crucial in the coming phases to ensure that civil society’s opinion is taken into consideration.
- Since the proposal need agreement between the Council and the European Parliament in order to become law, our advocacy efforts will focus both on the national and on the European level.