Visa-Free Travel to European Union Could Be Suspended

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The European Commission is inviting the European Parliament and Council to urgently launch discussions on the lack of reciprocity in visa-free travel between the European Union and the U.S. and Canada, a move that could spell trouble for visa-free travel between the EU and the two countries. 

According to the European Commission, visa waiver reciprocity is a principle of the EU's common visa policy. Under EU rules, if a situation of non-reciprocity exists from certain countries and is not corrected within 24 months, this can be cause for suspending visa-free travel from those countries. 

Right now the U.S. requires a visa for citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania, while Canada applies a visa requirement for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania. The 24 month deadline for correcting the issue has passed as of April 12, leading to the Commission's announcement. 

According to the New York Times, the European Commission has set a July 12 deadline for the European Parliament and the EU member governments to offer advice on next steps. The Commission could start imposing visa requirements on U.S. and Canadian citizens after that deadline. 

EU regulations still require the European Commission to to take into account the political, economic and administrative consequences of the suspension of the visa waiver. According to the Commission, it is "highly unlikely" that EU members would be able to process the increased number of via applications within 90 days, and that a visa waiver suspension could decrease the number of travelers from the U.S. and Canada. The suspension would also likely entail considerable, economic consequences, notably for the aviation industry, as well as have a substantial impact on the EU's external relations with two strategic partners, the Commission said. 

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