The Council announced that stricter visa procedures will be applied to The Gambia, such as processing applications only for 15 calendar days as the country neglected cooperation with the European Union.
According to a press release from the council, the decision came in the wake of the Gambian government’s lack of cooperation on the readmission of its citizens illegally residing in the European Union, TheSchengen.com reports.
Furthermore, Gambians will be subject to a temporary suspension of the following provisions:
Possibility of waiving the requirements related to the documents to be submitted by visa applicants, the visa application processing period will be shortened to 15 calendar days, therefore, this period cannot be extended to more than 45 days. Multiple-entry visas will not be issued to holders of diplomatic and passport holders will not be exempted. Traveling from The Gambia is a Visa Fee Requirement
Commenting on the decision, the Slovenian Interior Minister, Alec Höjs, indicated that the immigration policy could not work if third-country nationals residing illegally in the EU did not return to their homeland.
All states have an obligation under international law to readmit their citizens, and we expect that obligation will be fulfilled. Today’s decision, the first implementation of the new mechanism, is a clear sign of our strong commitment to using all relevant tools to improve readmission cooperation.”
The European Council and the European Council have consistently indicated the need for real progress on return and readmission. She called on the bodies to consider using all possible means of influence, including the rules under which visas are issued to the bloc.
In 2019, the EU changed the visa code and introduced a new mechanism to use visa processing as leverage in partnership with third countries in order to persuade the latter to take back their citizens illegally residing in the EU after their asylum application was rejected.
By following this alternative, UNHCR regularly appreciates the cooperation of third countries in readmission. When the government does not cooperate, the Commission makes a proposal to implement more restrictive visa procedures.
The Commission’s first assessment under the new mechanism was adopted on February 10, 2021. In accordance with this assessment and further relations with third countries, in July 2021, the Commission proposed to implement new temporary visa procedures for The Gambia, Bangladesh and Iraq. The proposed actions for the citizens of Bangladesh and Iraq are still under discussion in the Council.