06 September 2021
Earlier this year the European Commission proposed the possibility of taking measures to restrict the issuance of visas to nationals of three countries - Iraq, The Gambia and Bangladesh - in order to encourage compliance with deportations from the EU. Member states have mixed views on the proposals, a Council document shows.
See: NOTE from: General Secretariat of the Council: Visa Working Party/Mixed Committee (EU-Iceland/Norway and Switzerland/Liechtenstein) Proposals for visa measures under Article 25a of the Visa Code - comments from delegations (Council doc. 11416/21, LIMITE, 27 August 2021, pdf)
"Member States should use the tools available to overcome the deficits of our return and readmission
policies, therefore the Czech Republic supports the proposed implementing decisions in all three
cases and hopes that they will be adopted swiftly."
Germany, on the other hand, argues:
"We therefore propose postponing the Council decision about the adoption of the implementing
decision with respect to Bangladesh at least until mid-November. This would give Bangladesh an
opportunity to demonstrate that this progress does in fact have real substance for the long term. The
Commission and the Member States should use the time until then to make clear to Bangladesh that
the improvement in cooperation must be permanent. If substantive improvement in cooperation on
returns does not prove to be permanent, the implementing decision could be adopted by the end of
On the topic of Iraq's cooperation with readmission, the Netherlands notes:
"In the meantime, Iraq has shown a constructive commitment to the Belarus/Lithuania issue
this summer after being pressured to do so from the EU. However, the problem that we want
to tackle with the negative visa measures – poor return cooperation – has not disappeared and
we do not want to abandon our strategy (both at EU level and bilaterally)to move Iraq towards
better return cooperation. It is therefore important to get clarity from COM about the planned
tactics, timing and communication to ensure that we continue to make progress on both tracks
(return and Belarus). We therefore want to ask COM to indicate prior to the VWP VISA of 8
Sept. how it sees the connection between these two tracks and what their plan is against that
Meanwhile, for Switzerland:
"Iraq is one of our priorities in the field of readmission. Overall cooperation on return with Iraq
remains unsatisfactory. In particular, in the area of forced returns, Iraq issues travel documents only
for persons with a criminal record, although this group of people constitutes a small minority of all
pending cases from that country. Therefore, Switzerland supports negative incentives towards Iraq."
Since 2020, the EU has been able to use its visa policy as “leverage to improve cooperation with third countries on return and readmission,” as part of the drive to increase deportations. Non-EU states can be threatened with visa restrictions for their nationals if they are not deemed to cooperate sufficiently with the readmission process. A recent European Commission document, published here, sets out the perceived level of cooperation by those non-EU states. The Council is now considering potential next steps to ensure compliance with EU migration policies.
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