The Malta Independent 14 November 2018, Wednesday

Visas for Algerians: European Council urges Malta to ensure applicants will actually return home

David Lindsay Sunday, 30 July 2017, 11:15 Last update: about 2 years ago

The European Council has urged Malta to ensure that when its Consulate grants visas to Algerians, those receiving visas, which are, in effect, also visas to the whole Schengen Zone, have an actual will to return home, and they will not disappear into the wider European Union.

Following an assessment on the operations of Malta’s Consulate and visa section in Algiers, the Council has recommended that Malta: “ensure[s] that applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, with particular attention paid to the applicant’s will to return as evidenced by their individual socio-economic situation in the country of residence”.

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The recommendation is not a standard one, and similar sections in the Council’s report on the visa sections in Tunis and elsewhere make no such calls.

The Council also urges Malta to carry out more in-depth investigations of first-time applicants” at the Algiers Consulate, recommending that Malta “fully applies the provisions on issuing multiple-entry visas. These include visas with long validity as provided for in Article 24(2) of the Visa Code, to bona fide applicants who have proved their reliability and integrity, while continuing to carry out more in-depth investigations of first-time applicants”.

The recommendations come in a wider document prepared by the European Council entitled ‘Council Implementing Decision setting out a recommendation on addressing the deficiencies identified in the 2016 evaluation of Malta on the application of the Schengen acquis in the field of the common visa policy’.

The document makes several other recommendations on enhancing IT procedures but makes several specific recommendations on Malta’s visa operations in Algiers and Tunis. The full document can be downloaded from www.independent.com.mt.

Accusations of irregularities with the issuance of visas from the Maltese Consulate in Algiers had been a major bone of contention after Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami had raised concerns in Parliament over a seemingly inordinate number of Schengen visas for Algerians being issued by Malta, many of whom, it was alleged, were not staying in Malta and were travelling on and vanishing into other Schengen states. 

It transpired that 7,000 Schengen visas had been issued to Algerian nationals over the span of 18 months.

Last year the European Commission had dismissed claims that there was anything wrong with the issuing of thousands of Schengen visas for Algerian nationals from Malta’s Consulate in Algiers between 2014 and 2015.

In correspondence between the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs and Malta’s Permanent Representation to the European Union, the Commission said that it “considers that on the basis of information available there are no grounds for pursuing this matter further”.

But from the recommendations in the report by the European Council, it appears that there are still concerns about the situation, at least at Council level.

In late 2015, the National Audit Office began an investigation into the matter at the request of both the government and the Opposition but, to date, it appears that the investigation has not been concluded.

Council of the European Union

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