Wednesday

28th Jun 2017

MEPs attack EU officials over US visas

  • More than 30 million US visitors a year to EU, spending $54 billion (Photo: The Hamster Factor)

MEPs have said US visitors to the EU should be forced to buy visas because of America’s travel restrictions on a handful of member states.

The European Parliament's non-binding resolution was adopted by a show of hands in a plenary session in Brussels on Thursday (2 March).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Brussels airport after last March's attack - EU is becoming less appealing, Ujhelyi said (Photo: Reuters)

The issue is more of an internal EU battle than a genuine dispute with the US, but risks harming relations.

Under EU law, the European Commission was obliged to impose US visas in April 2016 because the US continues to deny visa-free travel to people from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania on security gorunds.

The Commission did not do so for fear of causing a US backlash, however.

It told the Reuters news agency on Thursday that it was still in talks with US officials and would "report on progress before the end of June”.

MEPs are angry that the Commission did not follow due process.

A parliament source said they might take action at the EU court in Luxembourg if it continued to ignore their appeals.

If the Commission adopted the US visa decision, it would anyway be likely struck down by the parliament and by member states, both of which are keen to avoid a US visa war.

Istvan Ujhelyi, a Hungarian centre-left MEP, who co-chairs the parliament’s transport committee, said ahead of Thursday’s vote that “pragmatic internationalism must prevail over procedural rigour” in EU relations with US president Donald Trump.

“The effect of terrorism in Europe in recent years emphasised how fragile our appeal is as a destination in long-haul markets,” he added.

The European national tourist bodies’ lobby, the ETC, said the same, adding that €51 billion a year of spending by US visitors to the EU was at stake.

Trump has not remarked on the visa dispute, but he recently upset France by saying that Paris was no longer a nice place to go due to the terrorist threat.

Some experts, such as Andras Simonyi, a scholar of transatlantic relations at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, have also warned EU institutions not to antagonise the thin-skinned US leader.

“Don’t pull the lion’s tail,” Simonyi, who negotiated Hungary's US visa waiver in his previous post as Hungary's ambassador to the US, told EUobserver.

EU hopes Trump will back down on visa war

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

EU chokes on US visa dispute

Bulgaria and Romania want the EU to impose visas on US nationals. It probably won’t happen. But EU officials’ attempts to “wiggle” out of it haven’t gone down well.

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.

EU extends sanctions on Russia

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia hadn't done enough to implement the so-called Minsk peace process, a condition for lifting the sanctions.

EU extends sanctions on Russia

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Russia hadn't done enough to implement the so-called Minsk peace process, a condition for lifting the sanctions.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  3. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  4. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  6. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  7. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  8. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  9. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  10. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  11. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  12. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million