NEW UNIFORM FORMAT FOR VISAS
Draft Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1683/95 laying down a uniform format for visas.
|Legal base:||Article 62(2)(b)(iii)EC; consultation; qualified majority of participating States
|Document originated:||9 October 2001
|Forwarded to the Council:||10 October 2001
|Deposited in Parliament:||25 October 2001
|Basis of consideration:||EM of 8 November 2001
|Previous Committee Report:||None
|To be discussed in Council:||Date not yet set
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Not cleared; further information requested
3.1 Regulation (EC) No 1683/95 which lays down a uniform
format for visas is directly applicable under the laws of all
the Member States. It has applied since 3 August 1995. The UK
has been issuing uniform format visas since September 1996.
3.2 Following the 11 September terrorist attacks in the
United States, the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 20 September
and the European Council of 21 September emphasised that the European
Union should take immediate action to improve the existing security
standards of travel documents.
3.3 The proposal gives implementing powers to the Uniform
Format Visa Comitology Committee to adopt technical measures for
two purposes. The first, in the words of the Commission's Explanatory
Memorandum, is for "the integration of a photograph produced
according to high security standards, in order to establish a
more reliable link between the holder and the visa format".
The second is to allow the possibility of changing the colours
of the visa format, "if an urgent need occurs to counteract
The Government's view
3.4 The UK has decided to participate in this measure.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office
(Angela Eagle) tells us that the Regulation would not require
amendment or repeal of primary legislation or of the immigration
rules; it could be implemented by administrative means.
3.5 She says, however, that there would be financial
implications if the new standards were to include requirements
for new issuing technologies, continuing:
"The Government is unable to give an accurate assessment
of such financial implications until it knows details of any new
requirements but provision of appropriate hardware and software
to entry clearance issuing posts could be expected to cost over
£1 million. Entry clearance operational running costs would
also rise since the process for each visa issued would include
the scanning or taking of a photograph and its subsequent manipulation.
As part of the entry clearance full cost recovery regime this
could lead to an increase in visa fees."
3.6 We are surprised that, even after the 11 September
terrorist attacks, it is considered necessary to add a photograph
to a visa which is presumably attached to a passport already containing
a photograph. We ask the Minister if she can justify the duplication,
especially as it may result in an increase in visa fees. We also
ask her to explain why the UK has decided to participate in this
3.7 The document will remain under scrutiny until
we have her response.