Saturday

25th Nov 2017

EU hopes Trump will back down on visa war

  • Trump won the election, in part, by promising to clamp down on immigration and to beef up US security (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

The European Commission is hoping that Donald Trump, the incoming US president, will back down in a potential visa war, but terrorist attacks in Europe could make that less likely.

The EU executive said in a statement on Wednesday (21 December) that it wanted to speak with his administration before imposing visas on US visitors to Europe.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Under EU law, it was obliged to do so already in April because the US had missed a deadline to remove visa barriers for the last EU states that still had them - Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania.

“We will continue keeping this issue high on the agenda with the new US administration”, EU home affairs commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said.

The commission said that the issue would be addressed at a meeting of “senior officials” from both sides “expected to take place in the first half of 2017.”

It promised to “report on further progress made before the end of June 2017.”

It repeated previous warnings that if the millions of US citizens who visit the EU each year had to obtain permits it would cost both sides a fortune and would have “significant negative impacts in a wide range of policy areas.”

It has also warned that the US would probably retaliate by imposing visas on all EU nationals.

Visa war unlikely

A full-blown visa war is unlikely because even if the commission went ahead, the move would likely be struck down by the EU Council, which represents member states.

Croatian, Cypriot, and Polish diplomats previously said they would prefer to handle the issue bilaterally.

Bulgaria and Romania were more keen for the EU to apply collective pressure, but they would fall short of a majority in the Council's voting system.

The European Parliament, which would also get to vote on the issue, is more hawkish.

A parliament source said there was “full unanimity” among MEPs that the commission must impose visas on US nationals in order to comply with EU law.

Individual MEPs, such as Bulgarian socialist Momchil Nekov, have said that Trump, a real-estate tycoon, would respect the EU more if it played “hardball”.

MEPs also said, in a plenary debate earlier this month, that parliament should sue the commission in the EU court in Luxembourg if it failed to comply.

Terrorist attacks

The handover in Washington from outgoing US president Barack Obama to Trump on 20 January is less likely to solve the dispute amicably.

Trump won the election, in part, by promising to clamp down on immigration and to beef up US security.

Andras Simonyi, a scholar of transatlantic relations at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, said this year’s wave of terrorist attacks in the EU would make the Trump team think twice before relaxing the EU visa regime any further.

“As terrorists now hail from almost everywhere in Europe, this will be a security issue first and foremost”, he said.

“The terrorist attacks are clearly not handled well from a security point of view by Europe. Too little is done too late and the EU does practically nothing, with mainstream politicians creating the illusion that safety is within reach. This does not help the visa waiver ‘applicants’,” he said.

Simonyi, who negotiated Hungary's US visa waiver in his former role as Budapest's envoy to Washington, added that Trump would react badly to EU “hardball” tactics.

“This is a bad idea cooked up in insular offices in Brussels by politicians who live in a dream world”, he said.

“Europe is not in the position to play hardball on any security related issue. The way to win his [Trump’s] respect is to start meeting the 2 percent threshold for spending on defence”, Simonyi added, referring to a pledge by Nato allies, most of which are also EU states, to spend at least that portion of their GDPs on their militaries.

Visa waiver dispute hangs over EU-US relations

People from Cyprus, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia still need a visa to enter the US, prompting EU annoyance and reports of potential action against US travellers to Europe.

EU counts cost of US visa war

US nationals could be forced to seek EU visas from mid-October. But the move would be a "disaster" for bilateral relations and would cost billions if implemented.

US questions visa waivers for EU nationals

A Republican congressman heading a taskforce on denying terrorists entry into the United States says that EU nationals pose a security risk, as some have fought alongside jihadists and wouldn't need visas to enter the US.

EU keeps visa-free travel for US visitors

Efforts by the European Parliament to scupper visa-free travel for Americans, in light of US restrictions on some EU states, were dashed on Tuesday by the European Commission.

Opinion

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Germany remains 'active' in EU
  2. Work with Israel, Egypt on gas exploration, says Commission
  3. Only seven EU states have 'advanced' stage climate plans
  4. EU dashes integration hopes of eastern countries
  5. EU approves joint Irish electricity scheme
  6. German president to launch 'Grand Coalition' talks
  7. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  8. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaPresident Sargsyan Joined EuFoA Honorary Council Inaugural Meeting
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  6. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  7. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  8. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  9. EPSUStudy Finds TUNED and Employers in Central Governments Most Representative
  10. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  11. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  12. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition