16th May 2022

EU relaxes rules on short-stay visas

The EU has relaxed rules for people trying to enter its passport-free 'Schengen' zone, in a move which spells good news for Belarus.

Under the terms of a new code which came into force on Monday (5 April), people applying for a short-stay Schengen visa should wait no longer than two weeks for a consular appointment and should receive a decision no later than 15 days down the line.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The new code spells good news for Belarussians, who do not benefit from an EU visa-facilitation deal (Photo: mpd01605)

Children aged six to 12 years old should pay €35 instead of the standard €60 fee, while people aged 25 years or less taking part in NGO-sponsored events should pay nothing at all.

People, such as lorry drivers, who need to come in and out of the EU frequently, and who are "known ...for his/her integrity and reliability" should be granted multiple-entry permits more easily.

The rules apply to nationals from all foreign countries which normally require a visa to enter Schengen. But they are likely to have the biggest immediate impact on Belarus.

The EU and Schengen accession of former Communist countries such as Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia in recent years has caused problems for people in neighbouring states, which saw a new visa regime all-but close borders from one day to the next.

Moldova, Russia and Ukraine have in the meantime signed visa-facilitation deals with the EU, which offer even better terms on paper than the new code.

But Belarus remains frozen out due to its authoritarian government, causing problems for small-time border traders and pro-democracy activists alike, with the €60/visa fee being the equivalent of the monthly minimum wage in Belarus.

The new EU rulebook recommends that young people and diplomats should be exempt from the fee altogether, but it does not make the waiver compulsory.

It also envisages a common list of grounds for refusing visas from April 2011 onward. But individual member states will continue to set their own rules for long-stay visas of over 90 days' duration.

The Schengen zone embraces 22 EU countries as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland and issued 10.4 million short-stay visas last year.

Ireland and the UK have opted out, while Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania are still waiting to join.

The visa code also sketches out a new role for the EU's foreign delegations, which are accreting more powers under the Lisbon Treaty.

The delegations are to "play a co-ordinating role" in making sure that EU countries' consulates in third countries comply with the rulebook.

Hungary turned into 'hybrid regime', MEPs say

The new draft European Parliament report is an update to the 2018 report which triggered the Article 7 procedure against Hungary, a sanctions probe aiming to rein in member states that break EU rules and values.


EU to clean house of Russia lobbyists

Brussels is to wave goodbye to Russian lobbyists under new sanctions, ending a 20-year era of influence peddling in Europe.

MEPs urge EU not to relax policing rule-of-law amid war

European lawmakers debated the lack of progress in the EU sanctions probe against Poland and Hungary, and warned Russia's invasion of Ukraine should not be a reason to turn away from rule-breaking within the bloc.

News in Brief

  1. German ruling party in regional election blow
  2. EU expanding arms-for-Ukraine programme
  3. Reports: EU drafts plans for Russia energy payments
  4. Pro-Russian hackers targeted Eurovision
  5. EU to donate extra €400m for Africa vaccines rollout
  6. Spain plans five-days 'menstrual leave' and to ease abortion rules
  7. MEPs reject proposal for stricter 2030 target on cars and vans
  8. Study: EU spent €341m on AI border technology

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  3. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  4. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersHuge support for Ukraine
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBWorkers want EC to limit subcontracting chains in construction

Latest News

  1. Sweden to join Finland in applying for Nato
  2. Russia sanctions and energy dominate Next WEEK
  3. Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?
  4. EU reaches deal on flagship cybersecurity law
  5. EU to help Ukraine export grain — amid food shortages fears
  6. Revealed: Big Oil shaped EU's gas-cutting strategy
  7. EU: Ukrainians hesitating to register for protection
  8. UK says 'no choice but to act' over post-Brexit trade rules

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us