Visa applications to the EU will be processed by a single European platform, according to a draft unveiled by the European Commission on Wednesday.
With the aim of fully digitalizing the visa process by 2025, the EU executive body proposed creating a single EU platform to apply for visas to the Schengen Area and pay fees online.
The site would also determine which of the 26 Schengen countries will be responsible for processing the application and provide information on the procedure.
The European Commission expects that the measures will reduce red tape and lower the cost of visa applications, while also improving the security of the Schengen Area.
“It is high time that the EU provides a quick, safe and web-based EU visa application platform for citizens of the 102 third countries that require short-term visas to travel to the EU,” said Ylva Johansson, the bloc’s commissioner for home affairs.
Surveys show that more than half of visa applicants find the process “burdensome,” and around one-third must travel a long distance to apply for a visa at the consulate of the EU country to which they plan to travel, she explained.
“A modern visa process is crucial to make travel to the EU easier for tourism and business,” Johansson added.
If the proposal is adopted by the European Parliament and EU member states, the online platform could be functioning as early as 2026.
EU member states will be given a five-year transition period until 2031 to adapt to the single EU visa system.