Global Independent Analytics

EU Considers Ending Visa-Free Travel

U.S., Canadian and Brunei citizens could lose automatic entry to bloc if EU citizens must have visas

Laurence Norman for The Wall Street Journal reports: The European Commission has asked governments and European Union lawmakers to state by July 12 what action the bloc should take over the absence of visa waivers for some EU citizens in the U.S., Canada and Brunei.

According to the EU rules, the Commission is to make a decision on whether to suspend the union’s visa waiver program for other countries if they do not agree to provide reciprocative visa-free access, which means that the citizens of the U.S. and Canada will lose their automatic entry to the bloc.

“Under EU rules, the Commission needs to launch a legal procedure to suspend the visa waiver programs for other countries. Once that is launched, the parliament and member states have four months to raise any objections. They can request an additional two months delay after that period before the visa waiver suspension takes effect,” continues Norman.

However, it was reported that the commission has not launched a legal process yet and no specified date of starting it emerged from Tuesday’s meeting. “Today, the Commission has assessed the legal, political and economic consequences of a possible temporary suspension of the visa waiver with the U.S., Canada, and Brunei and has asked for positions on the way forward from the European Parliament and the Council,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos. “Full visa reciprocity will stay high on the agenda of our bilateral relations with these countries.”

The heated discussion was triggered in 2014 when the commission reported that citizens of five EU members - Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus – were required to apply for visas when traveling to the U.S. The U.S. administration then claimed that the citizens of the countries as mentioned above do not qualify for its waiver program. Canada also denied granting visa-free access to Romanian and Bulgarian citizens.

The officials state that the issue should be resolved on a case-by-case basis and so far it remains to be seen whether the problem can be settled in the nearest term.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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