Immigration: EP OKs emergency visa reinstatement

After 2012 boom in unfounded asylum requests from the Balkans

12 September, 19:32

    (ANSAmed) - STRASBOURG, SEPTEMBER 12 - The European Parliament has green-lit a ''safeguard mechanism'' allowing EU member states to reinstate visa requirements for countries that had seen them abolished within the Schengen area.

    The European Commission will be charged with evaluating the requirements and deciding the merits of each case, after informing the Council and the EP. Approved with 328 votes in favor, 257 against and 46 abstentions, the regulation allows suspending liberalization of visas ''as a last result'' wherever a ''sudden and substantial increase'' of irregular immigration and unfounded asylum requests is recorded over a six-month period. The measure had been under debate for years, but was pushed last year to the top of the agenda by Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Austria and Holland following a boom in visa requests from the Balkans after the abolition of temporary visas for citizens from Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in 2009, and for those from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania in December 2010. ''I truly hope not to have to experience situations leading to a suspension of visa privileges, but I am also certain that having this option as an 'emergency brake' of sorts will help increase member states' trust in governance and in future visa liberalizations'', commented EU Internal Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.

    The regulation must be adopted by the European Council and then published on the EU Official Gazette in order to become operative.(ANSAmed).

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