EU could place visa restrictions on Americans

04 Mar 2017 | By Supriya
Could Americans lose EU visa waivers?

The European Parliament is considering putting an end to visa-free travel to Americans.

Currently, Americans have the privilege of visa-free travel throughout the EU bloc however Europeans from several countries aren't offered the same reciprocal privileges.

To balance things out, the European Parliament, recently, passed a 'non-binding' motion which provides for introducing visa restrictions for US citizens "within 2 months".

In context: Could Americans lose EU visa waivers?

OverviewEU displeased with lack of visa waiver reciprocity

Nearly 3 years ago, European Commission was informed that US , Australia, Brunei, Canada and Japan had failed to reciprocate parity in visa waiver rights that Europe offered their citizens.

Commission then set a 2-year deadline for compliance: subsequently, Australia, Brunei and Japan lifted visa requirements and Canada committed to do as well.

However, the United States has so far failed to act.

04 Mar 2017EU could place visa restrictions on Americans

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Five EU countries still on fringe

Citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania are denied visa-free access to the United States. US 'Bureau of Consular Affairs' had stated earlier that these five European countries don't yet fulfill prerequisite security requirements for Visa Waiver Program.
What follows next?

Cautionary approachWhat follows next?

EU passed the 'non-binding' resolution despite warnings from European Travel Commission which cautioned that a visa-war with United States would adversely impact EU's tourism industry.

European Commission's spokesperson tamped down concerns over imposing visa-restrictions on Americans in 2 months and said diplomatic resolution between EU-US will be pursued.

A progress report on discussions with US will subsequently be issued by the Commission in June.

US State Department responds

"The objective of US Visa Waiver Program is to facilitate travel to the US while maintaining highest standards of screening to protect national security. We have maintained an open dialogue with EU officials - It is premature to speculate."

Fragile sectorCould EU tourism be badly hit?

Nearly 30 million American tourists travel to Europe annually and spend a cumulative $54 billion.

Economic costs of a visa restriction would be a major disincentive for American tourists and could put millions of EU tourism related jobs at risk.

Tourism in EU has been dipping in recent years given spate of terrorist attacks and could slide further if visa-restrictions are imposed.