Taking a vacation to France? Au contraire, mon frere, think again! In possible shade being thrown at Trump’s recent immigration and travel ban, the European Union has decided to give Americans a taste of their own medicine. That’s right — the EU is proposing a measure to require Americans to apply for visas before traveling to Europe.
The Telegraph reports:
‘Americans should be forced to apply for visas to travel to Europe, the European Parliament has said, in response to Washington refusing to allow all Europeans to travel to the States visa-free.’
Currently, Americans are able to travel visa-free to all 28 countries within the European Union. However, the U.S. requires visas from Poland, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia as officials have stated they do not meet legal standards for visa waivers.
So if individuals from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania are kept out of America due to having no visas, so shall Americans suffer travel restrictions in their European travels. A European Parliament source called it a “serious negative step in the EU-USA visa war.”
The possibility of an EU-USA visa war actually started in 2014 when the European Commission discovered that the U.S. did not offer the same visa waiver rights as Europe offered. However, the move has no doubt been encouraged by Trump’s tightening of travel restrictions. Other countries found in violation were Australia, Brunei, Canada, and Japan. The Commission gave all countries two years to respond. All countries, except for the U.S., responded by lifting their visa requirements. America, however, did not respond.
Members of the European Parliament voted by a “show of hands” and agreed that they must suspend the Visa Waiver Programme. The suspension would be a year, however, The Wall Street Journal reports:
‘While the request is nonbinding and unlikely to change EU policy, it reflects hostility among some European politicians to the Trump administration.’
Remember, European Parliament openly condemned Trump’s Muslim ban he signed into law shortly after he was inaugurated.
What is significant about this is the fact that the measure passed despite the potential risk to the tourist industry, considering tighter travel restrictions can scare off potential tourists. Eduardo Santader, the executive director of the European Travel Commission (ETC), wrote in a letter to members of the European Parliament:
‘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. However, we are very concerned about the economic and political impact of a suspension of visa waiver for US nationals.
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 experiences a strong growth in employment.’
According to the WSJ, 27.4 million US citizens visited Europe in 2016. Those tourists spent over $54 billion (£44bn).
The State Department responded:
‘The objective of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program is to facilitate travel to the United States while maintaining the highest standards of screening to protect national security.
The program is open to countries that have very low non-immigrant visitor visa refusal rates and immigration violations, issue secure travel documents, and work closely with U.S. law enforcement and security authorities.
We have maintained an open dialogue with EU officials-as well as officials from those Member States that require visas for travel to the United States-on this matter. It is premature to speculate on an imposition of visas on U.S. citizens.’
Featured image via Getty Images / Sean Gallup.