Diplomacy

‘Visa War’: EU Votes to Bar Visa-Free Travel for American Citizens

Since US won’t allow visa-free entry for citizens of some Baltic countries, EU parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans in Europe

United States citizens traveling to Europe will soon have to pay for a visa to enter the continental bloc, thanks to an escalating “visa war,” as the Telegraph puts it, between the U.S. and the European Union.

The European Parliament, “by a show of hands, [on Wednesday] urged the Commission to adopt restrictive measures against U.S. citizens ‘within two months,'” reports Reuters.

The U.S. has long forced citizens of some E.U. countries—namely Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania—to purchase visas in order to enter the country, denying the E.U. complete reciprocity when it comes to visa-free travel. The E.U. gave U.S. officials notice in 2014 that the country need to enact reciprocity or the visa-free travel for U.S. citizens would come to an end, but the U.S. did nothing. While E.U. officials told Reuters that talks are ongoing, under the hostile right-wing Trump administration visa reciprocity seems extremely unlikely to happen.

And so the European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans, marking a “serious negative step in the E.U.-U.S.A. visa war,” an unnamed European Parliament source told the Telegraph. The European Commission has until the summer to enforce the measure.

Relations between the U.S. and other countries have already been markedly chilled since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, who in only six weeks has lashed out at Mexico, alienated China, and dismissed the Australian prime minister. Trump was also vocally hostile toward the E.U. throughout his presidential campaign.

In addition, it seems foreign tourists were sharply put off by Trump’s Muslim ban and draconian anti-immigration orders. Companies report that interest in U.S. travel has “fallen off a cliff” since the travel ban, with one trade association estimating that Trump’s election has already cost the American tourism industry over $180 million in lost revenue.

Categories: Diplomacy

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