Predictably, the European Pact on Migration and Asylum presented by the Commission on September 23 has confirmed the need to use visa policy to encourage cooperation from non-member states on the issue of readmission. Launched in the early 1990s, this approach has proved inseparable from European legislation, especially since the 2019 visa code reform.
Still, a recent analysis conducted by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs states that there is “no evidence of a leverage effect from the more restrictive visa policy”. The only exception here is the Balkans countries, due to their proximity to – and desire to join – the EU.
While non-member state governments still seem indifferent to European visa strategy, their citizens suffer the consequences. Hoping to enter an EU country legally for professional, leisure or other reasons, these visitors find themselves facing a complex, opaque and increasingly contentious system.
Over the last 15 years, all the member states except Romania gradually started to subcontract the management of visa applications to private companies – mainly VFSglobal (a subsidiary of the Kuoni group, bought in 2016 by Swedish private investment fund EQT) and TLScontact (a subsidiary of Teleperformance). The involvement of these contractors has led to a whole host of problems. The cost of services offered by their centres (appeals, appointments, photocopies) is exorbitant, information can be contradictory or misleading, completed applications are rejected on spurious grounds, and scams are all too common.
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