Travel Trouble

E.U. Parliament Wants Visas for U.S. Citizens

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Americans may soon join the slow lane. Picture source: Arnd Wiegmann, Reuters

If it were up to lawmakers at the European Parliament, U.S. citizens would have a harder time visiting the old continent this summer to tour the ancient streets of Rome and enjoy delicate pastry under the Parisian sun.

Irked by America’s refusal to grant visa-free access to all citizens of the 28-nation block, European lawmakers on Thursday called on the executive branch in Brussels to introduce reciprocal measures by May this year.

While Washington allows citizens from 23 countries to enter the United States without a visa on the so-called visa waiver program, it refuses to grant such easy access to people from the 5 remaining countries.

 

Citizens of  the Eastern European countries of Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, as well as those from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, still need to apply for a travel visa prior to their visit to the U.S.

 

The European Union is unlikely to act on the call, as such a move would pose a serious threat to the continent's tourism sector.

European Parliament lawmakers, which represent the citizens of their respective countries, described the restrictions as discrimination against some European citizens. They urged the European Commission to implement full visa reciprocity ahead of the summer vacation.

The European Union is unlikely to act on the call, as such a move would pose a serious threat to Europe’s tourism sector, which sees millions of Americans visit the continent each year. It would also strain already tense trans-Atlantic relations since the election of the new U.S. administration under President Donald Trump.

A European Commission spokeswoman told Reuters the executive branch was instead pursuing a diplomatic solution to the dispute, which has been ongoing since 2014.

“We will report on further progress made before the end of June and continue to work closely with both the European Parliament and the Council,” Reuters quoted the spokeswoman on Thursday.

 

Tina Bellon is an editor with Handelsblatt Global Edition. To contact the author: bellon.tina@gmail.com.

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