World

EU Parliament Urges No Visa-Free Travel For Americans

| by Kathryn Schroeder

Members of the European Parliament want the European Commission to make U.S. citizens obtain a visa before traveling to Europe.

Americans are not required to obtain a visa when visiting European countries, CNN notes. However, citizens from five of the 28 European Union member nations are still required to obtain a visa to visit the U.S. -- Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Cyprus.

Because EU rules require equal treatment for all member states, the MEPs want Americans to have to obtain a visa until the U.S. grants the five countries visa-free access to the county.

The MEPs approved the resolution urging the European Commission to adopt the necessary legal measures "within two months" on March 2, but the resolution is not binding and therefore is not required to be put into effect.

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It applied, U.S. citizens would temporarily have to obtain a visa until full reciprocity is put in place.

In December 2015, a European Commission report stated that it was "using all opportunities to explore the way ahead and all options or necessary actions to be taken to achieve" a resolution of the visa dispute.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is cited in the report as saying that the five EU nations without visa-free access were not meeting requirements established under U.S. law on visa refusals, and therefore were not eligible to join the visa waiver program.

"The Department of Homeland Security also reiterated that temporarily suspending the visa waiver for U.S. citizens would be highly counterproductive to the achievement of a reciprocal visa waiver," the report said.

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The visa issue has existed since 2014 when the EU first noticed that Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan and the U.S., were not reciprocating visa-free travel to all EU citizens, according to Quartz. Only Canada and the U.S. still require a visa from some EU countries, but Canada has promised to remove that barrier by December 2017.

If visa-free access is revoked from U.S. citizens who wish to travel to Europe, then it could mean a huge hit for EU tourism.

In 2016, the European Tourism Association found that U.S. and Canadian tourists accounted for $53 billion in revenues. Europe was the number one travel destination for Americans with more than 12 million visitors in 2016. The Caribbean came in second, and Asia in third. The most popular countries for tourists from the U.S.  were France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The European Commission plans to relaunch its efforts to resolve the matter with President Donald Trump once his administration is fully in place, and said that Congress will play a central role, CNN reports.

Sources: CNN, Quartz / Photo credit: Tim Sackton/Flickr

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