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EU Council Adopts Visa Measures Against Gambia

BY DAYO ADESULU

The Council today decided to temporarily suspend the application of certain provisions in the visa code to nationals of The Gambia. This decision was taken due to the country’s lack of cooperation on readmission of third-country nationals illegally staying in the EU.

“No migration policy can function without the effective return of those who don’t have the right to stay. All countries have an obligation under international law to the readmission of their own nationals and we expect this obligation to be fulfilled. Today’s decision, the first applying the new mechanism, is a clear sign of our strong commitment to using all relevant tools to improve cooperation on readmission.”- Aleš Hojs, Minister for the Interior of Slovenia

The following provisions have been temporarily suspended for nationals of The Gambia:

– possibility of waiving requirements with regard to the documents to be submitted by visa applicants

No migration policy can function without the effective return of those who don’t have the right to stay

– limitation of the processing period to 15 calendar days and, as a consequence, restriction of the extension of this period to 45 days

– issuing of multiple-entry visas

– optional visa fee waiver for holders of diplomatic and service passports

Background

The European Council and the Council have repeatedly highlighted the need to achieve real progress on return and readmission. They have called for consideration of the use of all necessary leverage, including visa policy.

In 2019, the EU updated the visa code and introduced a mechanism to use visa processing as leverage in cooperation with third countries on readmission. Under this mechanism, the Commission regularly assesses third countries’ cooperation on readmission. Where a country is not cooperating, the Commission proposes that the Council adopt an implementing decision applying specific restrictive visa measures.

The first Commission assessment under the new mechanism was adopted on 10 February 2021. On the basis of this assessment and further engagement with third countries, in July 2021 the Commission proposed to adopt temporary visa measures applying to The Gambia, Bangladesh and Iraq. The proposed measures for Bangladesh and Iraq are currently under discussion within the Council.

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