Select Committee on European Scrutiny Ninth Report


COM(01) 388

Draft Council Directive relating to the conditions in which third-country nationals shall have the freedom to travel in the territory of the Member States for periods not exceeding three months, including a specific travel authorisation and determining the conditions of entry and movement for periods not exceeding six months.
Legal base: Articles 62(3) and 63(3) EC; consultation; unanimity of participating States
Document originated: 10 July 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 11 July 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 26 July 2001
Department: Home Office
Basis of consideration: EM of 12 October 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Not cleared; further information requested


  7.1  This draft Directive constitutes a development of the Schengen acquis. Although the UK has not applied to participate in those parts of the acquis dealing with border controls and visa policy, it could opt in to this proposal if it wished.

The document

  7.2  The document is concerned with the conditions under which third-country nationals can enjoy freedom of movement, for a limited time, in the territory of the Member States. It aims to address two sets of circumstances:

  • the conditions under which third-country nationals, already lawfully present in the territory of a Member State, can travel freely for a period of no more than three months in the territory of the Member States; and

  • the issue of specific travel authorisation for third-country nationals who wish to enter and travel around the Member States for a period of between three and six months without remaining in a single Member State for more than three months.

  7.3  The proposal involves changes to the Schengen Implementing Convention, and to the Common Consular Instructions and Common Manual.

  7.4  The draft Directive would apply only to third country nationals who do not already have a right to enter and to stay (short or long-term) in the territory of another Member State. It would not affect the rights of free movement enjoyed by family members of an EU citizen, nor the rights enjoyed by other third country nationals and their family members under the EEA Agreement, or under the EU/Swiss Agreement (when that comes into force).

  7.5  In her Explanatory Memorandum, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Angela Eagle) summarises the conditions to be met in order to travel for a period of no more than three months as follows:

"All third country nationals would have to be in possession of a valid passport or travel document, should be able to substantiate the purpose of the visit, have sufficient means of subsistence for the period of stay and for the return to their country of origin or transit to a third state into which they are certain to be admitted, should not have been reported as a person not to be permitted entry and should not be considered to be a threat to public policy, national security or the international relations of any of the Member states. These conditions are similar to the conditions of entry established by the Schengen Implementing Convention.

"In addition, third-country nationals subject to a visa requirement by Member States would need to be in possession of a uniform visa valid for the duration of the stay.

"However, third-country nationals who hold a residence permit issued by one of the Member states would only need to carry their residence permit or a provisional residence authorisation and a travel document issued by a Member State.

"Third country nationals who have not obtained their residence permit in their host Member State but hold a long stay visa would travel freely only from the date of the submission of the application for residence permit to the Member State which issued the long stay visa."

  7.6  The Minister outlines the conditions to be met for the issue of a specific authorisation as follows:

"The procedures and conditions for the issue of a specific authorisation are similar to the conditions of entry established by the Schengen Implementing Convention.

"The specific travel authorisation may be issued for one or more entries at the diplomatic or consular authorities of a Member State and would not be issued at a Member State's external border. The specific authorisation would be issued in the uniform format and contain the letter "E" followed by the word "travel" and may not be combined with the exercise of freedom to travel for no more than three months. Member States may require third-country nationals exercising this right to travel to report their presence in their territory."

The Government's view

  7.7  The Minister states:

"If the UK were to opt in to the adoption of the draft Directive, it would substantially affect the UK's freedom to decide whether to allow the entry of third county nationals arriving in the UK from another Member State."


  7.8  The tenor of the Explanatory Memorandum suggests that the Government is not intending to opt in to this measure. While participation would undoubtedly impact upon the Government's control over immigration policy, it would have considerable advantages for third-country nationals wishing to travel as tourists or as service providers (like musicians on tour, for example). We ask the Minister for an explicit statement about whether the Government intends to participate in the draft Directive. If it does not, we ask whether it has any plans to make travel simpler for third-country nationals who meet the specified conditions in the proposal. We will keep the document under scrutiny until we have her response.

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Prepared 18 December 2001