The proposal was presented on 6 September and will now be examined by the European Council – the body that defines the overall political direction and priorities of the European Union – which will decide whether to adopt the proposal.
If the measure is adopted, Russian authorities will be given 48 hours of warning before it comes into force. Following the suspension of the agreement, originally adopted in 2007, Russian citizens will lose a range of privileges when applying for a Schengen visa. Changes will include:
- A rise in visa fees for all applicants from €35 to €80
- Requirements for more documentation from applicants
- Average application processing times will increase from 10 days to between 15-45 days for individual cases
- More difficulty in obtaining multiple-entry visas.
As of September 2022, there were reportedly around 963,000 Russian citizens with valid Schengen visas, according to the EC – out of a population of 144.1 million.
EU visa policy is a ‘mark of trust’
EU Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, argued that removing visa privileges from Russian citizens was the logical consequence of their government’s ‘unjustified war of aggression’, adding that ‘the EU’s visa policy is a mark of trust – a trust that Russia has completely undermined’.
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson added that in addition to the current proposal: “We will soon follow up with additional guidelines to ensure enhanced scrutiny on visa applications and border crossings by Russian citizens, without cutting ourselves from Russian dissidents and civil society.”
The EU has come under pressure from the governments of some member states – primarily those bordering Russia, such as Estonia, Finland and Latvia – to issue a full travel ban on Russian tourists in response to the invasion.
Estonia already issued a ban on Russian citizens with Estonia-issued Schengen visas from entering the country on 18 August, and will also no longer issue new ones to Russian citizens. Its fellow Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania are expected to join it in banning entry to Russian citizens with active Schengen visas from mid-September, according to an announcement by Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs on 7 September, following a joint meeting between the three states.