Euro lawmakers press European Union to impose visas on US citizens

Published: March 3, 2017
Email
PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

The European Parliament called on the EU executive on Thursday to force Americans to apply for visas before visiting Europe this summer, stepping up pressure to resolve a long-running transatlantic dispute on the issue.

The European Commission stressed it was pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the row, leaving it unlikely that it would act on the vote by lawmakers setting a May deadline to impose visas – a move that could hurt Europe’s tourism sector.

EU parliamentarian condemns Indian atrocities in Kashmir

Washington refuses to grant visa-free access to people from four east European states and Cyprus, while those from the other 23 member states can enter using the US visa waiver program. EU rules call for equal treatment for all Union citizens.

Commission officials noted a planned EU-US ministerial meeting on June 15 to try and resolve the issue, which has been running since 2014. The EU executive already allowed a deadline for a solution to pass nearly a year ago, without taking action.

“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,” a Commission spokeswoman said, referring to the council which groups the governments of the 28 EU member states.

A Commission official said contacts are ongoing with the US administration “to push for full visa reciprocity,” but fell short of saying that immediate action would be taken.

Former Communist countries Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, as well as the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, have been calling on Brussels to end US discrimination against their citizens.

But the economic cost of imposing visa restrictions on the millions of American tourists and business travelers who visit Europe each year is a major disincentive.

Most EU countries are part of the Schengen zone that allows people to travel freely inside Europe without passport checks.

Afghan filmmaker, seeking to free oppressed voices, finds own voice quieted

The Parliament, by a show of hands, urged the Commission to adopt restrictive measures against US citizens “within two months”. Lawmakers have little immediate power to ensure that the executive complies with such demands.

Canada also imposes visa requirements on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, but it has announced that they will be lifted in December.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (4)

  • Shah
    Mar 3, 2017 - 5:10PM

    Visa free for Romanians mean that Gypsies will make it into US. And we all know what fun they are!Recommend

  • kamal
    Mar 3, 2017 - 6:45PM

    The plot thickens. Interesting. No Muslims in Croatia, Bulgaria, Rumania. So very clear it is not about religion but good old racism. The blacks in the USA better get ready. Reversal is coming. USA – leader of the Free World, hardly.Recommend

  • curious2
    Mar 3, 2017 - 6:50PM

    Unlikely to happen as it would mean the USA would impose VISA requirements on the rest of the EU – something the countries currently not on the list won’t want. Recommend

  • powayman
    Mar 3, 2017 - 10:06PM

    @kamal:

    The plot thickens. Interesting. No
    Muslims in Croatia, Bulgaria, Rumania.
    So very clear it is not about religion
    but good old racism.

    Classic anti American blather than makes zero sense. What does race have to do with Poland, Bulgaria, Romania etc ? Last time I looked those countries were white/christian. The USA has every right to determine which countries it allows VISA free travel … and maybe it’s time the EU Parliament figured out that the EU isn’t a country. Recommend

More in World