Saturday

29th Apr 2017

We'll sue EU commission over US visa policy, say MEPs

  • The commission says US congressmen will not lift visa requirements so close to an election (Photo: prameya)

The European Commission may end up in court unless it threatens to impose visa restrictions on US citizens.

MEPs in the civil liberties committee demanded on Wednesday (12 October) that the commission makes the threat because citizens of five EU states - Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania - still need a visa to enter the US.

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.

"The European Parliament would have a case to take you to court," Dutch liberal Sophie In't Veld told EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Swedish liberal Cecilia Wikstroem made similar comments.

"This is a flagrant failure to act and it has to have consequences. This institution [EU parliament] has to act against the European Commission in full compliance with the treaties," she said.

The EU has reciprocity rules on lifting visas with other countries - if they insist that EU nations need visas, then the EU must impose the same obligations on their citizens.

The commission may trigger a so-called delegated act that would threaten to reimpose visas on all visiting US nationals.

But Avramopoulos told the MEPs the EU commission prefers maintaining diplomatic relations amid threats the US would simply impose visas on everyone.

"Yes, we have a legal responsibility. We have a political responsibility as well, the responsibility to ensure visa waivers for all EU citizens and not to lift visa waivers for all EU citizens. It is very clear."

He also noted that there was no chance US Congress would consider removing restrictions just weeks before a presidential election.

The five EU states are denied a visa waiver under a law that says visa requirements can be lifted only when less than 3 percent of applications are rejected. None of the five meet the threshold.

In 2015, the visa refusal rates were 17.3 percent for Bulgaria, Croatia (5.3), Cyprus (3.5) Poland (6.4), and Romania (11.3).

"To give these member states a visa waiver, the United States Congress should change the law and increase considerably this 3 percent threshold," said Avramopoulos.

"There is clearly no appetite in Congress now to do that and you know it."

But MEPs were not impressed.

Spanish centre-right Agustin Diaz de Mera told Avramopoulos to trigger the delegated act anyway.

"You have to initiate that delegated act, it is the tool, the instrument you have in order to negotiate," he said.

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 starts legal action against Hungary

The EU Commission is to launch a legal probe into Hungary's attack on a Soros-funded university, but Hungary's Orban was unrepentant the he faced MEPs.

European states still top media freedom list

Nordic countries Norway, Sweden and Finland still have the world's most free media, according to Reporters Without Borders, but the overall situation is declining.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  2. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  3. One year later: EU right to open Internet still virtual
  4. Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey
  5. Mob storms Macedonian parliament
  6. MEPs retain secrecy on office spending
  7. May accuses EU-27 of 'lining up against Britain'
  8. Resurrected Renzi to regain leadership of Italy's ruling party