The EU Commission adopted today a decision determining that as of July 2021, Bulgaria and Romania will gain read only access to the Visa Information System, the database connecting border guards at the EU’s external borders with Member States’ consulates across the world.
Read-only access means that these Member States will be able to access information that already exists in the system, rather than entering new information.
This comes after both countries successfully completed a series of technical tests required to connect to the system. Access to the Visa Information System means that Bulgaria and Romania will be able to see the visa history of an applicant, which will facilitate their processing of visa applications. It will also allow Bulgarian and Romanian border guards to verify the validity and authenticity of Schengen visas issued by other Member States against the data stored in the Visa Information System, helping prevent fraud and fight serious crime and terrorism, thus increasing security within the EU.
Read access to the Visa Information System will be necessary for Bulgaria and Romania to run the Entry/Exit System, expected to enter into operation in the first half of 2022. Full access to the Visa Information System would become possible once Bulgaria and Romania would be fully integrated within the Schengen area.
The Commission has reiterated its call on the Council to take the necessary steps for Bulgaria and Romania to become part of the area without controls at internal borders in the Strategy towards a stronger and more resilient Schengen area presented in June this year.