Proposed Touring Visa for Circus Artists Gaining Momentum despite Nationalist concerns about Illegal Immigration

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circusA new proposed Touring Visa would allow qualified non-EU nationals, including performing artists, their immediate family, and required specialty staff, that enter the Schengen area to circulate for up to one year (without staying for more the then 90 days in the same Member State in any 180-day period) to perform under contracts with circuses and festivals. In addition, under the Touring Visa, it would be possible for the applicant to obtain an extension for an additional year. The Visa would be available for individuals from both visa-exempted and non-exempted countries thus overcoming the problems with the current Schengen visa rules that limit the stay of third country nationals in the Schengen Area to 90/180 days and require their return to home countries to obtain subsequent visas.

The European Commission’s April 2014 proposal for a Touring Visa currently is under discussion in the European Council Visa Working Group and in the European Parliament. Both institutions will have to agree to adopt it. The responsible committee at the European Parliament is Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). Rapporteur Brice Hortefeux (FR-EPP) has raised concerns about the proposal, including the scope of the proposal and related possible security risks. He also has questioned the need for this new type of visa, citing the small number of beneficiaries. On Wednesday 17 June, LIBE organized a public hearing. Concerns similar to Brice’s were expressed by a former French Consul who participated in the hearing as an expert.

Ms. Lies Martens, company manager of Eastman, a renowned dance company in Belgium, also served as an expert at the hearing, representing PEARLE (the performing arts employers’ association). Ms. Martens gave an excellent presentation about the current problems in the live performance sector that could be addressed by the proposed Touring Visa. A representative of Cirque du Soleil also was present. The rapporteur’s draft opinion will be presented to LIBE in September and finalized thereafter. Unfortunately for the live performance sector, the European Parliament’s Committee on Education and Culture (CULT) declined to involve itself in evaluating the Commission’s proposal.

I3Recognizing the importance of the proposal to create jobs and generate economic benefit at the local level, the Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) decided to offer an opinion on the proposal and appointed Hungarian MEP Mr. István Ujhelyi as the rapporteur. Thanks to Mr. Ujhelyi’s leadership, on 24 June the European Parliament Intergroup on Tourism and Culture organized an event at which the need for and importance of the Touring Visa was underlined. On 14 July, Mr. Ujhelyi presented his draft opinion to the TRAN Committee in support of the proposal and in line with the views of the tourism sector. The TRAN opinion will be finalized in September. Meanwhile, Member State experts continue to review the proposal and develop their own positions and proposed amendments within the Council’s Visa Working Group. It is anticipated that the Council will finalize its position near year end and that negotiations between the Council (under the presidency of the Netherlands) and the Parliament will start in the first half of 2016.

Autumn, 2015 (Newsletter – Fédération Mondiale du Cirque)

Tourism can boost friendship between Europe and China

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DSC06967European and Chinese speakers told how tourism boosts the bilateral relationship. Industry insiders, officials and experts believe China and Europe could beef up efforts to explore the potential of the tourism sector, which could play a bigger role in boosting bilateral relationships.

They spoke at a seminar organized by the Belgian Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) and the European Parliament at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Brussels on Tuesday.

Istvan Ujhelyi, a member of the European Parliament and vice–chairman of the Transport and Tourism Committee, said tourism provides a platform to boost friendship between Europe and China, which brings mutual understanding and common communication to a new level. Apart from that, tourism also plays a huge role in solving social problems since it creates numerous jobs, he said.
“I am more than convinced that the European Commission should encourage investment in tourism; in infrastructure, in regional development and in easier market access”, Ujhelyi said.

DSC06909Bernard Dewit, BCECC chairman, said he believed the saying that China is undergoing a crisis is no more than just a misperception since tourist numbers from China are still growing.
“In a decade, the number of Chinese tourists is expected to double and reach 242 million by 2024”, he said. According to Dewit, cooperation between Chinese and European tourism industries should be further developed. He said Chinese travelers are one of the foreign tourist groups that spend the most. Liege airport, for example, since April has received three direct flights from China every week and witnessed enormous growth in business.

Minister-Counselor Qian Bo of the Chinese Mission to the EU stressed the huge potential of tourism cooperation between Europe and China. Last year, the tourism sector contributed 10 percent to economic growth and 8.4 percent to job creation in China, Qian said. He said both sides have agreed to support China-EU cooperation on sustainable tourism during the 17th EU-China summit held this June in Brussels.

Last year, Europe received 3.43 million Chinese tourists, an increase of 10.4 percent, and 300,000 students are studying in their countries. “A strong partnership and good political and economic relations can contribute greatly to tourism industries on both sides”, Qian said.

14-10-2015  (chinadaily.com.cn; by Fu Jing)