AEGEE-Europe has always been advocating for the right of free movement in Europe. With a strong belief in a unified, diverse and borderless Europe, AEGEE has been among the first Pan-European associations promoting Youth Mobility as the core action to empower students and young people in Europe to take an active role in society.
Thus, AEGEE-Europe is extremely disappointed by the Council Proposal on the Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, pupil exchange, remunerated and unremunerated training, voluntary service and au pairing. Modifying the scope of the directive, the Council proposes the Directive to be binding only for students and researchers, leaving behind pupils, trainees, volunteers and youth workers. This unacceptable distinction does not take into consideration the extremely important added value brought by the mobility of young volunteers and youth workers, namely those who contribute in the first lane to foster intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding in Europe.
Moreover, the Council deals with the visa application in a despicable way: not only the fee applicable by Member States has no low wage guarantees, but also the visa application may be required to be presented in the official language of the Member State, and, last but not least, the time given to the competent national authorities to take a decision has been extended to 90 days. Visa representing already a tough burden for young people and students applying, these conditions may result in unnecessary hurdles for applying and huge disparity of treatments from one Country to another, with the counter-productive consequence to raise an important and unnecessary barrier to youth mobility.
Last but not least, the Council introduced in the proposal a further burden for students and researchers holding a residence permit or a long-term visa willing to spend a consistent amount of time in another EU Country: the second Member State may require further verification on documents and purpose of stay. For young people studying, training or volunteering abroad, this would mean, going through the process of applying for a visa again, incurring additional expenses and thus potentially becoming an obstacle to pursue the expected educational results. We are demanding that Visa should be issued and valid for the whole of the EU/Schengen area and not be limited to certain counties within the EU not to create further obstacles.
To conclude, AEGEE-Europe is strongly concerned by the Council’s proposal, which represents an evident step backward compared to the premises proposed by the European Commission and the European Parliament, and is totally not in line with the principles of the Lisbon Treaty and the Regulation establishing Erasmus+, namely regarding the intent to “facilitate the free movement of people” and to “reduce issues that can rise difficulties in obtaining visa”.
Therefore we call the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Justice And Home Affairs Council in June and all the relevant Institutions to take all the necessary measures to make sure that the Directive tackle efficiently and effectively the burdens young people have to face to enjoy the right of movement in Europe.
Written by Alfredo Sellitti, Policy Officer of AEGEE-Europe on Youth Mobility