EC: More than 10M Schengen visas issued in 2023

More than 10 million Schengen visas were issued in 2023, and more than half a billion passengers visited the Schengen area, reaching 92 per cent of pre-pandemic 2019 levels, the European Commission (EC) said in its 2024 State of Schengen report, released on April 16.

This has significantly contributed to the EU economy, as tourism contributes close to 10 per cent of the EU’s GDP and provides jobs to about 22.6 million people, the EC said.

It said that the Schengen area had evolved into the world’s largest free travel area.

“Guaranteeing smooth and secure travel to a population of almost 450 million people, the Schengen area is essential for the European Union’s competitiveness,” the EC said.

“In 2023, Schengen has remained strong and remains the most visited destination in the world,” it said.

The 2024 State of Schengen reports on the achievements, challenges and developments in the Schengen area during the last cycle of 2023-2024.

The report says that the Schengen rules are well applied, although there are some implementation gaps, for instance: a reinforced legislative framework, where work is required to put in place the new measures, including police cooperation, to phase out long-lasting internal border controls; an integrated Schengen governance framework, for which the Commission will continue to work towards more complete data analysis in close cooperation with the EU agencies and member states.

The report notes the “historic steps” to complete the Schengen area with Bulgaria and Romania, starting with lifting controls at air and sea borders as of March 31 2024.

A further Council of the EC decision is needed for the lifting of checks at the internal land borders with Bulgaria and Romania.

The Schengen Council is due to meet on June 13 and 14 2024, with an agenda including discussing and deciding whether to adopt the State of Schengen report.

(Photo: Kaihsu Tai)

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