EC sets consultation mechanisms on VIS

The European Commission has adopted Decisión (2009/377/EC) of May 5th 2009, published in the Official Journal of the European Union on May 12th 2009, adopting implementing measures for the consultation mechanism and the other procedures referredto in Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Visa Information System (VIS) and the exchange of data between Member States on short-stay visas (VIS Regulation).

By this Decision, the Commission establishes the mechanisms and procedures wich will govern requests consultations between the competent authorities with regard to visas, in accordance with the Schengen Convention. The Visa Information System (VIS) Mail Communication mechanism shall be based on Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, allowing transmission of information between Member States via the infrastructure of the Visa Information System (VIS).

The personal data transmitted by this mechanism under Article 16 of the VIS Regulation will only be used for consulting the central authorities for visa and consular cooperation. In accordance with Regulation (EC) Nº 767/2008, the Member State which is responsible for examining the application shall transmit the consultation request with the application number to the VIS, indicating the Member State or the Member States to be consulted. On August 2008, the Commission already adopted a Decision setting the conditions under which the authorities designated by Member States and Europol will have access to consult the Visa Information System (VIS) for prevention, detection and investigation of terrorist crimes and other serious crimes.

VIS Mail Communication mechanism. Phase 1

In Phase 1, from the start of operations of VIS, the VIS Mail mechanism may be used for transmission of following types of information:

  • Messages related to consular cooperation.
  • Requests for supporting documents.
  • Messages on inaccurate data.
  • Member State nationality acquired by an applicant.

The provisions of the VIS Regulation concerning the use of VIS Mail for the transmission of information relating to consular cooperation and requests for supporting documents, for the amendment of data and for advance data deletion are applicable in Phase 1.

The VIS Mail mechanism, including the central mail relay and the national mail servers, needs to be in place in case at least one Member State intends to use the mechanism in Phase 1 to ensure that this Member State is able to transmit such messages.

During Phase 1 of the VIS Mail operation, VISION shall be used in parallel. The VIS Mail operations shall start in Phase 1 with business processes developed taking into account the technical solution of VISION to ensure a smooth switch-over between Phases 1 and 2 when VIS Mail will replace VISION.

Technical specifications describing the functionalities of the VIS Mail mechanism shall be without prejudice to the legal aspects of consular cooperation and visa procedures.

VIS Mail Communication mechanism. Phase 1

In Phase 2, when all the Schengen visa issuing posts are connected to VIS, the VIS Mail mechanism shall replace the Schengen Consultation Network from the date determined in accordance with Article 46 of the VIS Regulation.

As from this date all types of messages shall be exchanged via the VIS infrastructure by means of the VIS Mail mechanism.

SMTP Mail Exchange Infrastructure

The SMTP mail exchange shall use the VIS infrastructure, which includes national interfaces and the sTESTA network, and shall be based on national mail servers exchanging messages via a central mail relay infrastructure.

The central SMTP mail relay infrastructure shall be developed and installed in the VIS Central Unit and Back-up Central Unit sites. The management and monitoring of the mail relay including logging shall be provided by the Management Authority.

The national SMTP mail server infrastructure shall be prepared by the Member States. The national mail server infrastructure needs to be protected against unauthorised access to the messages.