EU: We Won’t Rescind Visa-Free Travel From U.S.

European Union flags waving in front of the EU Parliament building in Brussels
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The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union (EU), has elected not to suspend visa-free travel between the United States and Europe.

In a written statement the European Commission responded to the European Parliament vote in March to rescind visa-free travel from the U.S. over a long-running dispute regarding visa reciprocity between the U.S. and EU member states.

“The Commission considers that, in view of the significant progress achieved during the last year and the positive momentum of ongoing work, the temporary suspension of visa waivers for nationals of Canada and the United States would be counterproductive at this moment and would not serve the objective of achieving visa-free travel for all EU citizens,” the European Commission wrote on its website.

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The European Commission said that contacts have been re-launched with the Trump administration regarding full visa reciprocity with the five EU member states that have been at the center of the dispute. Additionally, Canada has lifted the visa requirements for some categories of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens as of May 1, and the European Commission said that Canada is set to achieve full reciprocity as of December 1.

"Our goal is and remains to obtain full visa reciprocity with both Canada and the U.S.,” said Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos in a written release. “Our continued engagement and patient diplomatic contacts over the past year have brought tangible results already with Canada, and we are committed to proceeding in the same way with the U.S. Dialogue with our strategic partners is the right way forward and we are on the right track."

A principle of the EU’s common visa policy, visa reciprocity requires countries whose citizens can travel visa-free to the EU to also allow visa-free travel from all EU member nations. Currently, the U.S. does not allow visa-free travel for citizens from Poland, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria, all of which are EU members. If a country does not allow visa-free travel from all EU members, the European Commission can move to rescind visa-free travel from that country.

The dispute, which first began in 2014, prompted the European Parliament to vote to rescind visa-free travel from the U.S. in March. News of the vote, which was nonbinding and would require the European Commission to act on it, prompted industry organizations, including the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and Travel Leaders Group, to urge the U.S. and EU to work together to avoid implementing new visa restrictions on travel.

At the same time, executives from major tour operators and travel industry organizations Travel Agent spoke with at the time said that it was highly unlikely the EU would move to restrict visa-free travel any time this year. Similarly, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) stressed that no changes had been made yet.

Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest Europe travel news, trends and updates.

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