The European Council has on 8th December adopted an implementing decision increasing the visa fee for Gambian nationals to €120 in order to improve Gambia’s cooperation on the return and readmission of its own nationals.
The decision responds to the lack of substantial and sustainable improvements in cooperation with The Gambia on readmission. In particular, cooperation on identification and return remains problematic, the timeframe set out in the EU-Gambia Readmission Agreement has not been respected, and a unilateral moratorium on returns by charter flights remained in force until March 2022.
This decision complements the measures already adopted by the Council in October 2021.
The European Council and the Council have repeatedly stressed the need to make tangible progress on return and readmission. They have called for considering the use of all necessary means of pressure, including visa policy.
In 2019, the EU updated the Visa Code and introduced a mechanism to use the processing of visa applications as a means of pressure when cooperating with third countries on readmission. The Commission’s first evaluation under the new mechanism was adopted on 10 February 2021. On the basis of this evaluation, the Council decided to temporarily suspend the application of some provisions of the Visa Code to Gambian nationals due to the country’s lack of cooperation on readmission.
The temporarily suspended provisions include the suspension of the possibility to waive the documents to be presented by applicants, the suspension of the shorter processing period, the suspension of the issuance of multiple entry visas and the suspension of the optional visa fee waiver for holders of diplomatic and service passports.
In its second assessment under the Visa Code mechanism, the Commission concluded that despite the steps taken, the Gambia’s cooperation on readmission remains inadequate and further action is needed.
Source: European Union Council