Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twentieth Report




Draft Decision on the adaptation of Part III and the creation of an Annex 16 to
the Common Consular Instructions.

Draft Decision on the adaptation of Part III and the creation of an Annex 16 to
the Common Consular Instructions.

Legal base:Council Regulation (EC) No 7981/01 reserving to the Council implementing powers with regard to certain detailed provisions and practical procedures for examining visa applications; — ; unanimity of participating States
Deposited in Parliament: 9 January 2002
Department:Home Office
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 4 March 2002
Previous Committee Report: HC 152-xv (2001-02), paragraph 7 ( 30 January 2002)
To be discussed in Council: Date not set
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:(Both) Cleared


  18.1   The Common Consular Instructions on Visas constitute the operational instructions to the consular authorities of the Schengen States. They need frequent updating.

  18.2  Since the UK has not applied to participate in those parts of the Schengen acquis which relate to visa requirements and does not follow the procedures set out in the Common Consular Instructions, we do not normally report on proposals for their adaptation. However, when we considered these documents in January, they prompted us to raise some questions with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Angela Eagle).

The Minister's letter

  18.3  The Minister has now responded. She addresses our first question as follows:

    "The Committee wanted to know how, in view of the fact that the United Kingdom is playing no part in agreeing the harmonised visa application form and does not participate in any elements of the Schengen acquis relating to visa requirements, the UK can exert influence to ensure that other EU Member States have clear, transparent and quick procedures to allow those residing in the United Kingdom to enter the Schengen area. I can assure the committee that although the UK does not take part in measures such as the Common Consular Instructions, we are still able to influence these areas. Officials from the Immigration and Nationality Directorate represent UK interests at a wide range of EU fora at which policy is developed on visa and other frontier control issues. These officials are able to contribute to these developments, including in those areas in which we do not participate. There is also bi-lateral working with member states who are participating in these measures. The UK has considerable experience and expertise in a number of areas including visa processing and frontier control that is valued by colleagues in Europe. The UK, where appropriate, seeks to share this experience and by doing so influence community policy development in these areas."

  18.4  We also asked why the UK participates in the uniform format for visas but not in the harmonised Schengen visa application form. Further, we asked whether the UK has its own visa application form and, if so, whether it differed significantly from the Schengen version.

  18.5  In response, the Minister says:

    "The Schengen visa application form (copy attached for your information) is for use by those people applying for a visa to allow access to the countries in the Schengen zone, which covers all EU countries except the UK and Ireland (plus Norway and Iceland). Countries in the Schengen zone have a different approach to immigration control and their traditional focus is on in-country control. Schengen common visa policies are based on the premises that immigration control is exercised at a Schengen external border and that within the Schengen area there is free movement of persons. As a result of the principle of free movement Schengen countries operate a system of mutual recognition of visas.

    "Because of the government's commitment to retain control over frontier and immigration policy, we do not participate in the Schengen visa arrangements and as such a Schengen visa does not permit entry to the UK. We do not therefore use the Schengen visa application form. The UK does have its own application form. A copy is attached for your information. While our application form does not differ significantly from the Schengen version, our form is designed to obtain all the basic information necessary for entry into the UK as set out in the Immigration Rules. Since our criteria for entry in certain categories differs from the Schengen criteria, different information is required on the form.

    "We have decided to participate in the new Regulation on the uniform format for visas because it does not influence either our ability to subject people to immigration control, or our ability to operate an independent immigration policy. The new Regulation on a uniform format for visas is limited to matters of document security and format."


  18.6  We thank the Minister for her full and helpful response, and for sending us copies of the different application forms. It is pleasing, if still somewhat surprising, that the UK is able to exert its influence on measures in which it does not take part.

  18.7  We now clear the documents.

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