EU lawmakers vote to reintroduce visas for Americans over “reciprocity principle”

Mike Pence in Brussels 2017

Visit of Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States, to the EC. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, meet Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States. Date: 20/02/2017 Reference: P-033700/00-43 Location: Brussels – EC/Berlaymont. © European Union , 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Mauro Bottaro.

The European Parliament passed a motion last Thursday calling on the European Parliament to temporarily reintroduce visa requirements for US citizens. The non-binding resolution called on the European Commission to end visa-free travel in response to Washington’s refusal to grant visa-free access to people from five east European countries.

Despite being only a temporary solution, the proposal could involve a serious damage to Europe’s tourism sector this summer, and represents by all means a step up in pressure in a long standing “visa war”.

Background

The matter concerns the so-called “visa reciprocity mechanism”, where if a given country does not lift its visa requirements within 24 months of being notified of non-reciprocity, the EU Commission must adopt a delegated act suspending the visa waiver for its nationals, as explained in a statement by the European Parliament.

The act can be objected by both the Parliament and the Council and the suspension usually lasts for 12 months. In April 2014, the European Commission was notified that five countries were not meeting their obligations towards the EU with regard to reciprocity of visa-free travel: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan and the US.

Australia, Brunei and Japan have lifted their visa requirements for all EU citizens and Canada has announced will do so on December 1 this year. Citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania still cannot enter US territory without a visa, while US citizens can travel to all EU countries visa-free. Indeed Washington still refuses to give visa-free access to people from those former communist countries, as US Department of Homeland Security still claims those five EU nations still do not meet security requirements set out under US law on visa refusals. Citizens from all other 23 EU member states can enter using the US visa waiver program.

Clear message

The EU is now pressing for equal treatment and reciprocity for all citizens from the bloc, and European lawmakers officially urged the EU Commission to adopt the necessary legal measures “within two months” to limit American visa-free travel to Europe.

“The EU Commission is legally obliged to take measures temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, given that Washington still does not grant visa-free access to nationals of five EU countries”, said the EU’s official in the official statement. “In a resolution approved on Thursday, MEPs urge the Commission to adopt the necessary legal measures ‘within two months’”, the statement also said.

Warning from the tourism industry

Last Thursday’s motion is widely seen as a major threat to the EU’s tourism industry. In a few words, given the extra cost and time that an application would require, many believe that visa requirements would ultimately turn-off to potential visitors, causing huge losses in income. Indeed, prior to Thursday’s vote, the European Travel Commission (ETC) warned of the negative impact a dispute over visa requirements with the US might have on the continent’s tourism industry.

Eduardo Santander, executive director of the ETC, was more than clear. “We fully understand and respect the visa waiver reciprocity mechanism embedded in European legislation to ensure that all nationals of Member States part of Schengen can benefit on equal terms from exemption of visa requirement”, Mr. Santander said in a letter to MEPs. “However, we are very concerned about the economic and political impact of a suspension of visa waiver for US nationals”, he added.

“Making it more difficult for US citizens to travel to Europe would certainly deprive the European travel and tourism sector of essential revenue, and put thousands of European jobs at stake in one of the few sectors which experienced a strong growth in employment”, he also declared.

Big numbers

The European Tourism Association was also very clear and immediately published a sort of report to warn the European Commission of a possible catastrophic impact of visa reintroduction for Americans. According to ETOA, US and Canadian visitors are worth approximately €50 billion ($53 billion) in tourist revenues, as part of a service industry “on the same level as the automotive sector”, with million jobs dependent on it.

“Whilst we have every sympathy with the Commission, they are victims of their own process. It is important that the European economy does not become a victim too”, said ETOA in an official press release last week.

Mario Bodini, Chairman of ETOA, said “There should be reciprocity, but is not a €15 billion and 600,000 jobs problem. And reciprocity is a principle widely ignored in visa circles: Europeans enjoy far more freedom to travel around the world than the world enjoys coming to Europe”.

According to the US International Trade Administration, over 12 million Americans visited Europe in 2016, with France, Italy, Spain and Germany being the leading countries in terms of presences.

Diplomatic resolutions

According to Reuters, the European Commission stressed it is still pursuing “a diplomatic resolution” to the row, and that a May deadline to impose visas is still “unlikely”, also due the enormous impact the move would have on Europe’s tourism sector. Commission officials have reportedly scheduled a planned EU-US ministerial meeting on June 15 to try and resolve the issue.

“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 last week.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The EU Commission to fight unemployment tsunami with a…scoreboard

Britain in and out of the EU

Nuclear test ban treaty critical to global collective security – UN chief

Visiting North Korea, UN relief chief spotlights funding shortfall to meet humanitarian needs

AI can help us unlock the world’s most complex operating system – the human body

MasterCard @ MWC14: Innovation in times of regulatory uncertainty

MEPs to vote on overhaul of road transport rules in July

Why are wildfires getting worse?

Why we need both science and humanities for a Fourth Industrial Revolution education

Pumping more money into banks but leaving them unregulated doesn’t help

There is a way for Eurozone to reach a sustainable growth path

Capitalism’s greatest weakness? It confuses price with value

EU-US Trade: European Commission endorses rebalancing duties on US products

Tsipras doesn’t seem to have learned his “almost Grexit” lesson and Greece faces again financial and political dead end

Public opinion misled by the Commission on air transport safety

EU labour mobility: Inconvenient truths for everybody

Entrepreneurial leadership: what does it take to become a leader?

The Next Web 2014, the biggest European conference on Internet so far and the Absence of Brussels from Amsterdam

EU agrees on Ukraine – Georgia visa-free travel amid veto risks and populist fears

Assembly of European Regions @ European Business Summit 2014: Made in Europe – Made of Regions

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

Commerce is on the cusp of radical change. Is your organization ready?

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?

Beware the fragility of the global economy

Cybersecurity Act: build trust in digital technologies

America writes-off Iran, blocks Europe’s Tehran talks

How cities can lead the way in bridging the global housing gap

Reform of road use charges to spur cleaner transport and ensure fairness

Eurozone economy desperately needs internally driven growth

Afghanistan: Civilian casualties caused by IEDs has reached ‘extreme levels’, UN warns

Grexit no longer a threat but how to manage a “tutti frutti” government if not with fear?

Europe bewildered by radicalisation and terrorism

Your smartphone may know more about your mental health than you

An entrepreneurial point-of view on tackling the migration crisis and the risks of abolishing Schengen

EU Ambassadors in the EP: a multilateral approach to global challenges needed

Statement by the Brexit Steering Group on UK government White paper

EU Commission: Banking and energy conglomerates don’t threaten competition!

Close to 7,000 evacuated from Syrian towns after enduring nearly 3-year siege

Who may profit from the rise of the extreme right in the West?

The Catcher in the Rice

115 rejections and no pay. What it really takes to be an entrepreneur

India is a latecomer to AI. Here’s how it plans to catch up

Modern humanitarian aid at times of global crises

The refugee crisis as a young Nigerian doctor sees it

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

UN expert calls for international investigation into ‘evident murder’ of Jamal Khashoggi

Greece did it again

The challenges of Chinese investment in Latin America

COP21 Paris: The Final Agreement Adopted-full text

Europe on the Move: Commission completes its agenda for safe, clean and connected mobility

Eurozone: Bankers-politicians rig keeps robbing taxpayers

Trump asked Merkel to pay NATO arrears and cut down exports ignoring the EU

ECB guarantees the liquidity of the Atlantic financial volume

Britain and Germany change attitude towards the European Union

Consumers suffer three defeats

Draghi, Letta: All Eurozone countries must be able to borrow like Germany

G20 LIVE: “International communities and leaders have great expectations for 2016 G20 summit in Hangzhou China”, Mr Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s special envoy stresses live from G20 in Antalya Turkey

UN chief condemns attack in south-west Iran which killed dozens

EU Parliament: Follow the fraudulent money and confiscate it

Haitian President at General Assembly calls for essential development aid as UN mission shifts away from peacekeeping

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s