To facilitate the lives of tourists visiting the EU and to stimulate the European economy, the European Commission proposed important changes to the Schengen Area visa rules in April 2014.
The main elements of the package are
The package included
Both legislative proposals are being examined by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament. They can only enter into force once approved by them both.
The Visa Code only concerns countries applying the common Schengen visa policy (Bulgaria, Croatia, Ireland, Cyprus and Romania do not take part in this visa policy currently).
A study on tourists to the Schengen area from six target markets (China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Ukraine) shows that in 2012, a total of 6.6 million potential tourists from these countries were deterred from travelling to the EU due to the rules governing visa applications.
Based on average spending figures, the study estimated that the tourism industry in the Schengen area loses out on a potential €5.5 billion each year in direct contributions to GDP. This adds up to around 113,000 jobs in tourism and related sectors.
The study concludes that visa facilitation would clearly benefit the tourism sector and the economies of the Schengen area.