EU ban Indonesian airlines

The bad news came from Brussels on 28 June 2007 when the European Commission (EC) experts meeting on air safety deemed Indonesian airlines to be unsafe. The experts’ decision comes after recent crashes in the Asian archipelago and the failure of Indonesia authorities to provide adequate safety assurances. The message is clear that no Indonesian airlines including national carrier Garuda will be allowed for flying within the European Union skies. Furthermore the EC will issue the next Commission regulation on the European aviation safety.

Since at the moment no Indonesian airlines fly to EU, the decision to ban Indonesian airlines does not have a big impact. The ban could have a big impact on European passenger traveling with Indonesian airlines outside the EU. So the EU decision to ban Indonesian airlines could be considered as travel warning for European for not using Indonesian airlines. For me, it is normal that the European Commission is reminding their citizen to choose flight professionally and have safety assurances. Other ways, we should render our lives to uncertainty.

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Schengen Visa and EU

Once, a senior official from Jakarta intend to have a meeting with his counterpart in European Commission in Brussels. Since there was no direct flight from Jakarta to Brussels, he should transit in Frankfurt Airport, Germany, then continued to Brussels. In Frankfurt, immigration officer asked this Indonesian official why he did not have Schengen visa to enter Belgium. Since he did not have the visa as requested, then the immigration officer did not allow this Indonesian official to continue his flight to Brussel.

To respond, this senior official explained that as a government official he did not need a visa to enter Belgium. According to him, there is an agreement between the government of Indonesia and the government of Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (Benelux) to grant a free visa for Indonesian officials.

That’s true that since November 2006, Benelux has granted a free visa for Indonesian officials reciprocally. But this agreement is valid for officials who flight directly to Benelux countries. If the officials transit in the third country, he should have a proper visa. In this case, if the official transit in Frankfurt, of course they should have Schengen visa or at least Germany visa. If they have not proper visa, please be prepared that the immigration officers will not allow you to enter Belgium from Frankfurt and he should reschedule his flight to third country, of course by bought new tickets.

This is not the first time that Indonesian officials have been rejected by immigration officers since they have not a Schengen visa. Some do not know that they need Schengen Visa, even for transit. So what is Schengen visa?

The name "Schengen" originates from a small town in Luxembourg. In June 1985, seven European Union countries signed a treaty to end internal border checkpoints and controls. More countries have joined the treaty over the past years. At present, there are 15 Schengen countries, all in Europe. The 15 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. All these countries except Norway and Iceland are European Union members.

By having Schengen visa, the visa holder can travel to any (or all) member countries using one single visa, thus avoiding the hassle and expense of obtaining individual visas for each country. This is particularly beneficial for persons who wish to visit several European countries on the same trip. The Schengen visa is a “visitor visa”. It is issued to citizens of countries who are required to obtain a visa before entering Europe.

The purpose of the visit must be leisure, tourism, or business. Upon the issuance of the visa, the visa holder is allowed to enter all member countries and travel freely throughout the Schengen area. It is strongly recommended to plan your journey within the timeframe of the Schengen visa as extensions can be very difficult to obtain, thus forcing you to leave to stay in compliance with the Schengen rules and regulations. A Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen countries for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in a 6 month period.

Since all Schengen countries are in Europe, people sometime a bit confuse with the European Union (EU). They are thinking that Schengen is identical with access to all EU countries. In fact, Schengen and EU are different. They were established by different agreement. As mentioned above, Schengen visa based on agreement signed in Schengen, ratified and implemented by 15 countries. While the establishment of the EU based on Treaty of Rome signed in 1957 by six founder countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

It’s mean that if you will visit EU countries, please consider carefully whether you need Schengen visa of not. If you will visit one of the 15 countries as mentioned above, you need Schengen visa. But if you have planned to visit other countries in Europe, such as United Kingdom, Ireland or Hungary, of course you need to apply their national visa. Otherwise, the immigration officer will not allow you to enter their country.

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