Lorne Cook, Associated Press, March 15, 2018
The European Union moved Wednesday to speed up the return of unauthorized migrants, announcing plans to punish countries that refuse to take back their nationals by restricting visas for their diplomats.
While the number of people entering Europe in search of better lives has dropped dramatically over the past year, EU countries only send back around half of migrants denied visas, often because the migrants have lost or destroyed their ID documents and it’s difficult to establish their nationality. Fake ID is also often used.
Formalizing a threat already made to some African countries by EU member states, the EU’s executive Commission announced that it has “a new mechanism to trigger stricter conditions for processing visas when a partner country does not cooperate sufficiently.”
At the same time, the Commission said it plans to make tourism visas more attractive. It would allow for earlier applications, electronic visas, and strictly limited stays of one week in one EU country.
But the price of visas — already beyond the means of most Africans — would rise from 60 to 80 euros ($74 to $99), leaving many heading to Europe in search of better lives with little incentive to apply.
Also Wednesday, the Commission said it was mobilizing the second 3-billion-euro ($3.7 billion) tranche of refugee money for Turkey, even though the move was endorsed several weeks ago.
The money is aimed at helping Turkey cope with some 3 million Syrian refugees on its territory, and is part of a package of incentives offered to Ankara to persuade it to stop migrants trying to reach Europe.