EFIL keeps advocating for a better EU policy on visas for educational exchanges.

The 3 month visa (so called Schengen visa) is regulated by the Visa code which is now under revision. EFIL attended the hearing on the Visa code at the European Parliament on 17th June where the European Youth Forum was a speaker next to other stakeholders such as Embassies and representatives of the tourism industry.  The main demands of youth organisations are that visa fees are waived for participants younger than 35 years old to educational activities, including exchanges and volunteering. Also, applications procedures should be transparent, it should be allowed to apply for a Schengen visa more than 3 months before the planned travel and common EU application centers should be established in order to ensure accessibility for visa applicants.

Following this input from experts, the European Parliament published its draft report on the European Commission’s proposal on 4 September. EFIL contributed to the reaction and amendments through the European Youth Forum which published its reaction. Members of the European Parliament will have time to present their amendments by the end of September. The final report will then be voted at the end of the year. We don’t know whether any of the upcoming EU Presidencies will deal with this Commission’s proposal, issue the Council’s position and continue the trialogue.

Regarding the revision of the Visa directive, namely the policy for long term visa for pupils, students and volunteers, there are no significant news from the trialogue between EU Council, European Commission and European Parliament non the matter.  The country most against the directive is Germany and for this reason, the European Youth Forum is organising a lobby mission to the German Ministry of Internal affairs together with the German National Youth Council (DNK) on 8 October. EFIL and EEE-YFU are cooperating with the European Youth Forum for this lobby action where also AJA (the national umbrella of pupil exchange organisations) and AGDF (volunteering abroad umbrella organisation) are involved. The reasons for the German government’s opposition are still not clear, though they include both the fact that the presence of third-country pupils and volunteers are considered of no economic benefit for the country, and at the same time the provisions included in the proposal would worsen the current situation of third-country volunteers in Germany.

In general, given the current humanitarian and migration crisis, the topic of mobility from third-countries to EU for educational purposes is difficult to tackle.

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