A visa policy to spur economic growth in the EU


A visa policy to spur economic growth in the EU
Brussels, 7 November 2012
A visa policy to spur economic growth in the EU
In a strategic Communication adopted today, the Commission examines how the
implementation and development of the common visa policy could help growth in the EU
by facilitating travel opportunities for third country nationals willing to visit the EU.
With a total of 18.8 million jobs in 2011, tourism has become one of the biggest
generators of employment in the European Union and a key driver for economic growth
and development. In 2011 foreign visitor spending amounted to €330.44 billion. According
to recent estimations these figures are likely to increase up to 20.4 million jobs and
€427.31 billion in 2022.
If fully exploited, the current visa rules could ensure that the EU remains an attractive
destination for more tourists/third country nationals, while at the same time boosting EU's
economic activity and job creation. Indeed, tourism has a considerable impact on the
economy as a whole, through spending in accommodation, food and drink, transport,
entertainment, shopping, etc.
"Given the current economic downturn we should strive to increase tourist flows to Europe
while continuing to ensure the security of our borders'' said the Commissioner for Home
Affairs Cecilia Malmström. ''Facilitating opportunities for legitimate travellers, who do not
pose a security risk, to visit Europe can only reinforce our position as the world's number
one tourist destination, a most welcome achievement for our economy", she added.
"Tourism and travel facilitation have always been high on my agenda. I am very pleased
that the excellent cooperation between Commissioner Malmström's services and mine are
bearing fruit. I consider this Communication a milestone, in that the Commission officially
recognises the importance of taking economic considerations into account when adopting
decisions on visa policy", said European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani.
Figures show that the number of visas issued has increased significantly in recent years
and that visa refusals remain low. Around 460 000 Schengen visas were issued in India in
2011; the number was 340 000 in 2007. Also the number of visas issued in China
significantly increased: 560 000 visas in 2008, compared to 1 026 000 in 2011. In Russia
around 5 152 000 visas were issued in 2011, compared to 3 500 000 in 2007.
Yet more could be done to increase tourism flows from those countries presenting a high
tourist generating potential as well as a growing purchasing power.
Improving travel facilitations
A lot can be achieved already under existing visa rules and many obstacles can be
removed by a correct implementation of the Visa Code by Member States' consulates. In
particular, consulates should enforce the 15 days deadline for granting an appointment,
the 15 days deadline for a decision on the visa application, the availability of application
forms in the language of the host country and they should also assess the possibility to
issue multiple entry visas.
In a long term perspective, possible changes of the current visa rules could also be
explored, including:
Streamlining and shortening the procedures (reconsidering all steps of the
procedure including lodging of the visa application by intermediaries/travel
agencies, and prior consultation);
• Clarifying the definition of the competent consulate for processing the visa
• Simplifying the application form;
• Simplifying/clarifying the requirements for supporting documents;
• Clarifying the rules on visa fee waivers;
• Clarifying the rules on the issuing of multiple entry visas;
• Improving consular organisation and cooperation, e.g. by redefining the legal
framework for Common Application Centres, facilitating the establishment of such
centres and their functioning;
• Enhancing Local Schengen Cooperation (harmonising visa practices in the
Schengen countries), in order to make it more efficient.
Moreover, technological developments should also be taken into account. For instance, the
Commission will soon put forward legislative proposals on 'Smart Borders' (see the 2011
Communication: IP/11/1234 and MEMO/11/728) meant to ensure smoother travel flows at
EU's external borders.
More information MEMO/12/838
Useful Links
European Commissioner Cecilia Malmström's website and Twitter
DG Home Affairs website and Twitter
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani's website and Twitter
DG Enterprise and Industry website (Tourism)
Contacts :
Michele Cercone (+32 2 298 09 63)
Carlo Corazza (+32 2 295 17 52)
Tove Ernst (+32 2 298 67 64)
Sara Tironi (+32 2 299 04 03)