Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twentieth Report


COM(01) 577

Draft Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No. 1683/95 laying down
a uniform format for visas.

Legal base:Article 62(2)(b)(iii)EC; consultation; qualified majority of participating States
Document originated:9 October 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 10 October 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 25 October 2001
Department:Home Office
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 27 February 2002
Previous Committee Report: HC 152-xviii (2001-02), paragraph 10 (6 February 2002)
Discussed in Council: February 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared (decision reported on 6 February 2002)


  15.1  This is a proposal to give implementing powers to the Uniform Format Visa Comitology Committee to introduce a highly secure photograph into the uniform format visa.

  15.2  When we last considered this proposal (in February), we cleared the document, but asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Angela Eagle) for some further information. We sought confirmation that all visas issued by EU Member States were stuck into passports; and we requested an assessment of the cost involved in taking and scanning a photograph for a visa and its subsequent manipulation.

The Minister's letter

  15.3  The Minister has now replied. In response to our first question, she says that, while she cannot state categorically that all visas issued by EU Member States are stuck into passports, her officials are not aware of any EU country that still issues ink-stamp type visas — the only real alternative. She attaches a sample of the European Uniform Format Visa, for information.

  15.4  In relation to our question about cost, the Minister tells us:

    "It is extremely difficult to make an accurate assessment of what the cost will be at the time of implementation (which may be up to 5 years hence). However, we have estimated that we will require 80 extra members of staff at a cost of £2 million a year to undertake the operation of scanning a photograph through to printing onto the visa. This estimate is based on a manipulation time of 4 minutes per visa (taken from a recent demonstration of the software and process) and an average cost for the appropriate level of locally-engaged staff. It is also equally difficult to assess the level of visa applications in the future. We have therefore taken a figure based on recent years' trends. The cost excludes capital costs for any additional equipment which may be required."

  15.5  The Minister informs us that the Regulation was adopted at the General Affairs Council on 18-19 February 2002.


  15.6  We thank the Minister for her helpful response, and for sending us a sample of the European Uniform Format Visa for information. We have already cleared the document.

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