A “Visa Information System” (VIS) for the 25 will use biometric information by 2007, to increase the EU’s internal security and to curtail illegal immigration.
The proposal by the European Commission is that each of the Schengen Treaty member states which ended internal border check points and controls in 1995 would recognise three-month visas issued by any other of these states, and also to refuse such short-term visas if one rejected an application. EU justice, freedom and security official Jan de Ceuster said the aim was to seek the right balance between security and protecting the privacy of the citizens concerned. Finding this equilibrium, he said, is not an exact mathematical exercise; it requires there be a political evaluation, which he credited the Commission’s proposal with having carried out. It is currently impossible, even with cooperation among the some 3,500 Schengen member consular posts, dealing with 12 million applications per year from 134 countries, for the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. VIS aims to improve matters.