Thursday 13 August 2009

Germany against reformed EU short-term visa procedures

In June, the EU Council has adopted a Community code on visas.

All details on the legislative proposal can be found in the Council press release (see also the full legislative procedure and the final document), but its
"provisions mainly concern transits through or intended stays not exceeding three months in any six-month period (short-term visas)"
and the idea was that
"[t]hird-country nationals will benefit from a more consistent and transparent application procedures."
- which sounds rather positive to me.

Yet, in the overview over the June legislative acts passed by the Council published yesterday I found on page 29 that the only state voting against this proposal was Germany.

In fact, this was the only negative vote of a member state on any major legislative proposal in June, so it looks quite important.

However, when you go to website of the German Ministry of the Interior, the only information you get on this legislation is:
"7. Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Community Code on Visas – COM(2006) 403 final

It is envisaged to adopt a visa code to consolidate and to a certain extent reform the existing Community acquis governing the granting of Schengen visas. It is a fundamental reform intended to incorporate and replace a number of legal instruments such as the Common Consular Instructions (CCI) and Articles 9 to 17 of the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement. This will help clarify existing rules of the common visa policy.
No sign that Germany has rejected the proposal. And trying to find something in the press did also not bring about results.

Only in an addendum to the June Council minutes (which are just related to in the Council press release by the document number) you find the explanation:
"The German delegation generally welcomes the agreement on a Visa Code. It has not endorsed the current version owing to the fact that its request that visa applicants be interviewed has not been accommodated. The German delegation would therefore reiterate its proposal that visa applicants submitting a first application should, in principle, be interviewed by a consular officer since such applicants are, in any case, required to appear at the visa office in person to be fingerprinted (exceptions: bona fide applicants and applications filed with external service providers or commercial intermediaries). [...]"
This position is another example of the distrust of the German visa authorities to anyone applying for a visa to Germany.

"Our" officials - in these cases they are not "mine" - make a damn mess out of any visa application, which renders any international meeting with non-EU foreigners a problem if you don't get a nice administrators dealing with your issues.

And apparently our government has no problem to project this stubbornness even to its EU-level decisions, against all 26 other member states.

Thank you Germany, for being the most stubborn country in the Union, and thanks for keeping up the walls that we were hoping to tear down - I feel ashamed!