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Council and Parliament reach agreement on immigration liaison officers, visas, biometric ID cards
25.2.19
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Measures being negotiated as part of the EU's 'Security Union' are moving ahead swiftly, with the Council and Parliament reaching provisional agreements on new rules for immigration liaison officers, the EU's Visa Code and the introduction of mandatory biometric national identity cards; and the Council agreeing its negotiating position on the new Frontex Regulation.

Immigration liaison officers: Council Presidency and European Parliament reach provisional agreement (Council of the EU press release, link):

"The EU is strengthening the cooperation and coordination between liaison officers deployed to third countries by member states or the EU to deal with immigration-related issues.

Today, representatives of the Council Presidency and the European Parliament reached an informal agreement on a regulation to improve the functioning of the European network of immigration liaison officers. It will now be presented to EU ambassadors for confirmation on behalf of the Council.

The informal agreement includes the following provisions:

  • a steering board at EU level to strengthen the management of the network and the coordination of liaison officers, while maintaining the competence of the deploying authorities so as to ensure effectiveness and clear lines of communication
  • a stronger role for liaison officers in combatting migrant smuggling
  • liaison officers will collect information to assist third countries in preventing illegal migration flows and to support border management at the EU's external borders
  • liaison officers may also assist member states in facilitating returns of illegally staying third country nationals
  • funds will be made available in support of activities of immigration liaison officers that will be allocated in agreement with the steering board"

Visa policy: Council confirms agreement on changes to the visa code (Council of the EU press release, link):

"The EU is updating its visa rules to improve conditions for legitimate travellers and increase the tools available to respond to the challenges posed by illegal migration.

EU ambassadors today confirmed on behalf of the Council the informal agreement reached between representatives of the European Parliament and the Romanian Presidency of the Council on the proposal amending the visa code.

  • allowing for the lodging of applications up to 6 months and no later than 15 days before the trip
  • providing for the possibility of filling in and signing the application form electronically
  • introducing a harmonised approach to issuing multiple entry visas to regular travellers with a positive visa history for a period which increases gradually from 1 to 5 years.

(...)

The regulation should also contribute to improving cooperation with third countries on readmission by introducing a new mechanism for using visa policy as leverage.

Under this mechanism, the Commission will regularly assess third countries' cooperation on readmission. Where a country is not cooperating, the Commission will propose that the Council adopt an implementing decision applying specific restrictive visa measures related to visa processing and, eventually, visa fee."

At the same time, the EU is also upgrading the Visa Information System (VIS) - which is currently used to hold information on all applicants for short-stay Schengen visas, but is being expanded to include information on long-stay visas and residence documents; to enforce mandatory biometrics in long-stay visas (currently a national competence); and to include the fingerprints of children from the age of six and up. All visa applicants will also be profiled.

Better security for ID documents: Council Presidency and European Parliament reach provisional agreement (Council of the EU press release, link)

"The EU is introducing tighter security for ID cards in order to reduce identity fraud. Today, representatives of the Romanian Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament reached an informal agreement on a regulation which will strengthen the security of identity cards of EU citizens and of residence documents issued to EU citizens and their non-EU family members. The informal agreement will now be presented to EU ambassadors for confirmation on behalf of the Council.

Under the proposed new rules, identity cards will have to be produced in a uniform, credit card format (ID-1), include a machine-readable zone, and follow the minimum security standards set out by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). They will also need to include a photo and two fingerprints of the cardholder, stored in a digital format, on a contactless chip. ID cards will indicate the country code of the member state issuing them, inside an EU flag.

Identity cards will have a minimum period of validity of 5 years and a maximum period of validity of 10 years. Member states may issue ID cards with a longer validity for persons aged 70 and above. If issued, ID cards for minors may have a period of validity of less than 5 years."

Statewatch has been closely tracking the proposal on identity cards. See:

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