On Thursday, the European Union (E.U.) announced it has temporarily suspended the enforcement of specific provisions in the visa-issuance process to nationals of The Gambia. The European Union says the decision was taken to pay back to The Gambia’s refusal to cooperate on the deportations of Gambians deemed illegally staying in E.U. member countries.
An official statement of the European Union’s Council has on Thursday detailed the provisions temporarily suspended for nationals of The Gambia seeking visa entry to Europe.
As a result, Gambian applicants of a visa to the European Union will now be asked to submit all complete evidence documents in their visa applications. This means that Gambian visa applicants lose the privilege of any E.U. member country of destination waiving a single document they are legally required to submit to obtain a visa.
The other measure announced by the E.U. is that Gambians have now lost the privilege of being issued multiple entry visas. If a Gambian is issued a visa for one E.U member country, the visa remains only valid for that only country he applied for.
The European Union has also decided that Gambians holders of diplomatic and service passports have now lost the optional visa fee waiver they used to benefit from E.U. member countries. Meaning holders of diplomatic and service passports will pay up to the last euro to process their visa application.
Above all, Gambians lose the privilege limitation of the visa processing period of 15 calendar days and, consequently, a restriction of the extension of this period shifts to 45 days.
Speaking for the European Council on the punishment inflicted on The Gambia, Aleš Hojs, Minister for the Interior of Slovenia, said: “All countries have an obligation under international law to the readmission of their nationals, and we expect this obligation to be fulfilled. Today’s decision, the first applying the new mechanism, is a clear sign of our strong commitment to using all relevant tools to improve cooperation on readmission.”
On the premise of its stiff reaction, the European Council’s statement explains that although The Gambia lifted a moratorium on deportations in January 2020, it mounted recurring obstacles to the organization and implementation of deportations of Gambians from E.U. member countries.
“Fluctuating levels of Gambian cooperation have also hampered all phases of the return process, including when applying the existing good practices and other operational arrangements previously agreed between the Union and The Gambia,” the E.U. Council says.
But the decision of the Gambia to uphold “a moratorium on forced return or repatriation until after the elections in December” is the catalyst of the European Union’s decision to pay back with stiffening the issuance of visas to Gambian nationals.
Meanwhile, the temporary suspension should not apply to nationals of The Gambia applying for a visa to an E.U. country hosting an international or intergovernmental organization that convenes a conference in the E.U. Member States.
Denmark is not taking part in the adoption of the Eu decision to stiffen the visas for Gambians. So Denmark is not bound by it, given that the punishment on The Gambia builds upon the Schengen acquis. However, Denmark can decide within six months whether it will implement the E.U. visa restrictions on Gambians in its national law.