The European Union is facing a serious scandal involving the alleged issuance of Polish visas to migrants from Africa and Asia in exchange for bribes. The visas, which grant access to the Schengen area of 27 EU member states, were reportedly sold for thousands of dollars each by Polish consular staff and external agents in several countries.
The scandal came to light after Polish media outlets revealed that the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and some of its consulates had been involved in a widespread illegal scheme that had been operating since 2021.
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The Polish Foreign Ministry said 1,951,000 national and Schengen visas were issued in the last 30 months.
The reports claimed that the visa applicants paid between $3,000 and $10,000 to intermediaries who had contacts with Polish officials or consular staff. The intermediaries then arranged for the applicants to receive visas without proper verification of their documents or background checks. Some of the applicants were also coached on how to answer questions during the visa interviews.
The reports also alleged that some of the visa holders used Poland as a transit point to reach other EU countries, such as Germany, France, or Sweden, where they applied for asylum or sought better economic opportunities.
The scandal has sparked outrage and concern among the EU authorities and other member states, especially Germany, which shares a border with Poland and has been affected by the influx of migrants.
The European Commission has sent a letter to Poland asking for “clarifications” and posing a “set of detailed questions” about the allegations. The Commission has also urged Poland to investigate the allegations and ensure compliance with EU law.
The Polish government has denied the allegations and claimed that they are part of a “political attack” against Poland by its opponents. The Polish Foreign Ministry has refuted the claims that it “has imported hundreds of thousands of migrants from Muslim countries and Africa” and that Poland is the EU leader in issuing entry permits to the Schengen zone.
The ministry has also stated that it has taken measures to prevent and combat visa fraud, such as introducing biometric visas, conducting audits and inspections, and dismissing or prosecuting corrupt officials.
However, the Polish prosecutors have confirmed that they have brought charges against seven individuals in connection with the visa scandal.
The investigation is still ongoing and more suspects may be identified and charged in the future. The prosecutors have also requested cooperation from the authorities of the countries where the visas were issued or where the intermediaries operated.
The visa scandal has exposed the vulnerabilities and loopholes in the EU’s visa system and border security. It has also raised questions about the integrity and accountability of some Polish officials who have allegedly abused their positions and betrayed their obligations to the EU.
The scandal has also highlighted the plight and desperation of many migrants who face difficulties and risks to obtain European visas legally or illegally.
The EU and Poland need to work together to resolve this issue and restore trust and confidence among their partners and citizens.
The EU needs to ensure that its visa policy is fair, transparent, consistent, and secure across all member states. Poland needs to cooperate fully with the EU’s inquiries and investigations and take responsibility for its actions and failures. Both sides need to address the root causes and consequences of migration and find humane and sustainable solutions for the benefit of all.