14th Nov 2018

German visa scandal moves to EU level

A scandal over lax German visa rules, which has dogged foreign minister Joschka Fischer for months, has now moved up to EU level.

The question is whether loopholes in Germany's visa regime, which allowed tens of thousands of eastern Europeans to enter Germany between 2000 and 2003 breached Schengen rules.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The German foreign ministry finally managed to pass the relevant documents to the European Commission on Friday (29 April), following months of pressure.

According to the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, EU justice minister Franco Frattini will give his first opinion on the matter by the end of this week.

Ukraine embassy gets busy

The affair started when German visa rules were liberalised to make it easier for citizens of new democratic states in eastern Europe to enter the EU.

Presentation of a specialised insurance document was in some cases enough to obtain a visa and enter Germany.

The embassy in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, was particularly busy and managed to issue 297,000 visas in 2001 alone, according to Deutsche Welle.

The opposition in Germany has claimed the lax visa rules allowed an influx of prostitutes, drug dealers and gangsters from former Soviet satellites.

Fischer admits failure

Mr Fischer admitted failure but accused his political opponents of exaggerating the scale of the problem during a day-long televised testimony last Monday (25 April).

He added that all relevant information had already been passed to the EU autorities. "According to my information, they have received it", he said according to Die Welt.

This turned out to be slightly inaccurate, as the full information was only handed to Brussels at the end of last week - four days after Mr Fischer’s testimony to the German parliamentary inquiry.

Visa for one - visa for all

The Schengen rules have removed all internal border controls and introduced a common visa policy in most EU countries.

Having a valid visa for one of the Schengen states automatically includes the right to stay up to three months in all the other Schengen countries, which is why the German laxity has caught the eyes of Franco Frattini, the EU justice chief.

Full Schengen members include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden (but not Ireland or the UK) as well as Iceland and Norway (not EU members).

The 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004 do not yet fully participate in Schengen.

EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press

Romania's data protection authority has threatened a €20m fine against reporters investigating high-level corruption. The European Commission has since issued a warning, telling Romanian authorities to give press exemptions when it comes to privacy rights.

Romania 'using EU data protection law to silence journalists'

An award-winning journalism outlet in Romania is being threatened with fines by the country's data protection authorities - for having disclosed connections, on Facebook, of powerful politicians and a firm embroiled in scandal.

Visual Data

Asylum seekers appealing returns must get own travel documents

The European Commission wants to increase the return rates of rejected asylum seekers, following pressure from EU states. But the reforms proposed seek to increase detention, and put people who are appealing their decisions at risk.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs


Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us