EP approves giving Bulgaria partial access to Schengen Visa Information System

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The European Parliament approved on 4th of October a proposal to grant access to the visa information system (VIS) of the Schengen passport free-travel area to Bulgaria and Romania.

“The Council decision would allow Bulgaria and Romania to consult and check VIS data, but without the right to enter, amend or delete them,” the European Parliament said in a statement.

As the proposal follows the consultation legislative procedure, the Council of the European Union is not bound by the parliament’s position.

The visa information system allows states of the Schengen area to exchange visa data, supporting the implementation of the common EU visa policy. It consists of a central IT system and of a communication infrastructure that links this central system to the national ones.

The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said on his Twitter account that “Romania and Bulgaria “must join Schengen asap. Today’s vote on access to Visa Information System is a step forward to strengthen external border control.”

Bulgaria and Romania requested access because of the enhanced security measures at the EU’s external borders related to the migration crisis and the fight against terrorism.

The decision of the European Parliament is not directly related to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen. Bulgarian and Romanian citizens will continue to be checked when they enter the Schengen area.

Sofia and Bucharest have been candidates since 2011. To become part of Schengen, they must be unanimously approved by the other EU member states. There are countries like the Netherlands and Germany, which oppose Romania and Bulgaria’s bid for joining Schengen.

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