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

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

EU crisis aggravates structural differences, threatens cohesion

Who is to lose from the 6-month extension of the EU economic sanctions against Russia?

Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change and youth inaction: oblivion or nonchalance?”, AIESEC wonders from Brussels

Social Committee teaches Van Rompuy a lesson

The Peoples are missing from EU’s monetary union

New VAT rules in the EU: how a digital sea could have become an ocean

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ingenu steps up efforts to build LPWA networks across the globe

GSMA announces first speakers for Mobile 360 Series-Middle East and North Africa

Presentation of Juncker’s Investment Plan: Can 315 billion euros save the EU?

Eurozone: Economic sentiment-business climate to collapse without support from exports

The MH17 tragedy to put a tombstone on Ukrainian civil war

Is Eurozone heading towards a long stagnation?

Turkey presents a new strategy for EU accession but foreign policy could be the lucky card

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part I)

“Beyond the beach: tackling plastic pollution upstream”, a Sting Exclusive by Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment

Youth Forum welcomes positive ruling on non-EU student visas

Will Europe be a different place this Monday?

EU to negotiate an FTA with Japan

Why is the World Health Organisation so much needed?

ITU Telecom World 2017: exploring smart digital transformation

Five-year low inflation for Eurozone and now Mario has to finally wake up the Germans

EU plans pan-European network of cybersecurity services

“Sorry mom it’s not our day”: the true refugee story of a young doctor and his family forced to flee their home

When is Berlin telling the truth about the EU banking union?

European Youth, quo vadis?

EU: Huge surplus in the trade of services with the rest of the world

COP21 Breaking News_05 December: Ban Ki-Moon Closing Address at COP21 Action Day Innovation, Imagination, Faster Climate Action

EU Parliament approves CETA: the EU-Canada free trade deal sees the light in Trump’s gloomy era

Eurozone: Austerity brings new political tremors

JADE @ European Business Summit 2014: Youth Unemployment – a drive to Entrepreneurship

Ministers for Youth miss the opportunity to improve social inclusion of young people

MasterCard at European Business Summit 2015: A focus on innovation will drive inclusive economic growth for Europe

Presidents of pan-European youth organisations call upon the European Council to preserve the Schengen principles

Economic recovery won’t tackle youth unemployment problem

European Business Summit 2014: The role of youth entrepreneurship education in EU’s Strategy for Competitiveness

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

Bankruptcy or referendum: which one is going to be first?

Greek citizens to pay the price again but Tsipras risks losing next elections

The Eurogroup protects Germany and blames others

Yes, together we can make a change! YO!Fest and EYE 2016

Bureaucracy in the member states again the obstacle for long due strong European Hedge Funds

Bitpay @ TheNextWeb 2014: Innovation’s Best Friend

EU finally agrees on target for 40% greenhouse emission cuts ahead of Paris climate talks

Creating shared value: an opportunity and challenge for entrepreneurship

ECB money bonanza not enough to revive euro area, Germany longs to rule with stagnation

Migration crisis will keep deteriorating as common EU political will is simply not there

Will the three major parties retain control of the new EU Parliament?

A new world that demands new doctors in the fourth industrial revolution

Climate change and health: Raising awareness is the key for greener actions

Italian banks: It’s Rome’s turn to confront Berlin’s aggressiveness

How Germany strives to mold ECB’s monetary policy to her interests

Right2Water initiative: Is the Commission ready to listen to citizens?

Twenty days that may remold the future of Europe

In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities

The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

Catalan Pro-Independence vote: how many hits can Brussels sustain at the same time?

Responsible Artificial Intelligence

‘Free state aid’ for imprudent banks

US, Russia oblige each other in Syria and Ukraine selling off allies

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s