Wednesday

23rd Aug 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).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

  • 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.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

'Killer robots' are not about Terminator

A European signatory of an open letter about autonomous weapons says the imagery of fictional killer robots is distracting from a seriously dangerous issue.

News in Brief

  1. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  2. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  3. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  4. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US
  5. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  6. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  7. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  8. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference