The European Parliament and the Council of Europe have agreed on digitizing the Schengen visa procedure.
"The agreed rules will modernize, simplify and harmonize visa procedures for third-country nationals applying for visas and for the Member States that have to issue them, thanks to digitization," says a press release from the European Commission.
Digital visas are much safer than physical visa stickers, as they are less vulnerable to fraud, counterfeiting, and theft. A single European platform will allow online applications to be made directly.
Third-country travelers can pay the same visa fee regardless of which Schengen country they wish to visit.
Europe plans to replace the Schengen visa sticker with a digital Schengen visa (encrypted 2D barcode), which will also apply to long-stay visas.
EU countries that still need to fully implement Schengen rules, such as Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus, can issue short-stay visas. The system will identify which country will process the application if the stay involves multiple states.
Member States have a 7-year transitional period to join the platform. The European Parliament and Council must formally adopt the regulation.