European Union officials have voted in favor of a non-binding resolution that would require all U.S. citizens to acquire a visa before traveling to the EU. It seems a sort of visa war or “tit for tat” has begun, as the vote comes after the U.S. refused to agree to visa-free travel for citizens of five EU nations.
Non-binding vote on visas for Americans
Currently, citizens from Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Croatia are required to obtain a visa before traveling to the U.S., although the nation does not require travelers from the rest of the 28-nation bloc to get one. U.S. citizens are allowed to travel anywhere in the EU without obtaining a visa beforehand, but the European Parliament is trying to change that.
The new scheme would require U.S. citizens to apply for more documents before being able to travel to any country in the EU. It’s expected to last 12 months from the time of implementation by the European Commission.
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According to The Wall Street Journal, the vote isn’t expected to make any real change to policy in the European Union because it is non-binding. However, it does seem to reflect European officials’ anger toward the Trump administration amid the long-running dispute regarding visa restrictions against travelers from five of the EU’s member nations. The European Parliament had also slammed President Donald Trump’s attempts to keep travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations out of the U.S.
Visa-free travel – U.S. violated reciprocity agreement
U.S. citizens are now allowed to travel to all of the 28 member nations of the European Union under the visa waiver program. It’s part of a reciprocity agreement under which the United States was supposed to grant citizens of all EU member nations visa-free travel. However, the European Commission learned three years ago that the U.S. wasn’t honoring the agreement. Commissioners have yet to take any legal action on this though, according to the Independent.
The parliament’s civil liberties committee is urging the European Commission to take action within the next two months by dropping the visa-free travel perk for U.S. citizens. However, the commission has warned that requiring Americans to obtain visas might have a negative impact on tourism, trade, and the economy in Europe.
Some commissioners told Reuters that they will try to resolve the matter diplomatically, which makes it unlikely that they will take any action by the May deadline that was set by this week’s non-binding vote. EU officials were hoping to have visas reinstated for Americans in time for the summer travel season.