EC: Bulgaria, Romania to get read-only access to Visa Information System in July

The European Commission adopted on June 18 a decision determining that as of July 2021, Bulgaria and Romania will gain read-only access to the Visa Information System, the database connecting border guards at the EU’s external borders with member states’ consulates across the world, the Commission said in a statement.

Read-only access means that the two countries will be able to access information that already exists in the system, rather than entering new information, the Commission said.

This comes after both countries successfully completed a series of technical tests required to connect to the system.

Access to the Visa Information System means that Bulgaria and Romania will be able to see the visa history of an applicant, which will facilitate their processing of visa applications.

It will also allow Bulgarian and Romanian border guards to verify the validity and authenticity of Schengen visas issued by other member states against the data stored in the Visa Information System, helping prevent fraud and fight serious crime and terrorism, thus increasing security within the EU, the Commission said.

Read access to the Visa Information System will be necessary for Bulgaria and Romania to run the Entry/Exit System, expected to enter into operation in the first half of 2022.

Full access to the Visa Information System would become possible once Bulgaria and Romania would be fully integrated within the Schengen area.

The Commission has reiterated its call on the European Council to take the necessary steps for Bulgaria and Romania to become part of the area without controls at internal borders in the strategy towards a stronger and more resilient Schengen area, presented by the European Commission in June 2021.

Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen visa zone has been opposed for several years by member states that point with concern to the Commission’s reports under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), showing inadequacies in coming up to the EU’s standards for the fight against organised crime and corruption.

Bulgaria and its backers have insisted that the CVM process and eligibility to be a member of the Schengen visa zone are unrelated, but to no avail.

(Photo: Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry)

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