Room for Interpration? A study on how the member states execute the harmonized Schengen Visa Code
Visa policies in the European Union and the Schengen Area are still a field of research that is still very much out of focus. This paper aims to put light in the dark: by investigating the different interpretations of two Articles of the “Schengen Visa Code”, this research will show that a harmonized visa policy within the member states is far away from being established. By comparing the visa policies of the member states, it becomes clear that visa harmonization seems to have been achieved on paper by drafting Regulations which all member states have to follow through. The wordings of these Regulations and, above all, some Articles within these Regulations leave so much room for interpretation that the same legal provision is treated considerably differently within the Schengen Area among its member states. In regard to the waiting time to get an appointment for just filing a visa application, attitudes and interpretations of the particular legal prescriptions vary considerably. This also leaves room concerning the question of how seriously time limits for filing a visa application should be followed through. Furthermore, the member states have a lot of flexibility regarding the validity and the duration of their issued Schengen visas: Some states issue considerably more visas with a long validity than others. The above mentioned different treatments and interpretations of European legislation pose the question of how far harmonization has come when looking at the visa policies. And furthermore: is (complete) harmonization actually desired?