03 Mar 2017

European Parliament votes to end visa-free travel for Americans


EU parliament urges visas for US citizens visiting Europe

The visa-free travel for US citizens within the EU has been voted to end by the European Parliament, after the US failed to agree upon visa-free travel for the citizens of the five following EU countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland, Croatia, and Romania, as part of the reciprocity agreement.

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The vote, which has been prepared by the civil liberties committee and approved by a plenary session of parliament, has given the European Commission two full months to act before the MEPs can consider action in the European Court of Justice.

The European Commission was notified in 2014 about the US, Australia, Japan, Canada, and Brunei failing in reciprocal visa-free travel to citizens of the EU countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland, Croatia, and Romania.

This vote urges the revocation of the scheme within two months, which means, Americans will have to apply for extra documents for 12 months after the European Commission implements a ‘delegated act’, which will bring the change into effect. Normally, US citizens could travel without a visa throughout the countries in the bloc.

The European Parliament warned that it could take the European Commission to court if it does not stand up to Washington. In the vote, the Parliament has given the European Commission two months to legally impose visas to Americans travelling to the EU, unless the Americans offer reciprocity to all citizens of the bloc.

“When the United States of America understand that the European Commission is going to act, will we get any kind of timetable from the US. Right now, the US is holding on to the pragmatic argument that requiring visas for Americans travelling to the EU would create big damages, so the US believes that the Commission is not going to do it.” – said Mr. Moraes.

The European Parliament or the Council of the European Union have the chance to object to the “delegated act”, while the Commission is legally obliged to suspend the visa waiver for Americans.

Australia, Japan, Canada, and Brunei have also failed in their obligations, but all the four countries are soon to lift any visa restrictions on travel for citizens of the EU.

Since 2014, Australia, Japan, and Brunei resolved the differences with the European Union, while the agreement with Canada is expected to be in effect from December, according to the European Parliament statement.

“Potential ‘retaliation’ and a drop in visitor numbers precipitates substantial losses for the tourism industry in the continent” – warned Migration Commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The Commission will issue the progress report on discussions with the US, by the end of June.

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