The European Commission is thinking about requiring US and Canadian citizens to apply for visas before travelling to the EU. This move risks raising tensions between Brussels and Washington, at the moment they are still negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP.
For more information on the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership, read “Why TTIP? It Is Just Geopolitics and It Is Crucial.”
A new regulation, which entered into force on 20 December, requires EU countries to stand together on visa matters, especially in cases where foreign countries “subjects [EU] citizens to differing treatment”. The regulation does not apply to Britain and Ireland, which have opt-outs from the EU’s common visa policy.
This is the case for both Romanians and Bulgarians, who must apply for entry visa to enter the United States and Canada, together with Croatians, Cypriots and Poles, who are excluded from the visa waiver scheme offered to other EU citizens by the US.
Therefore, unless the US government does not agree to include all remaining European Union member states, namely Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania, on the list of those entitled to visa-free, the European Commission is expected to decide by the 12th April whether to change the visa requirements for Americans travel.
As reported by an EU source, this possibility is likely to happen, even if it is unclear whether such a step would be useful, considering that it would severely affect EU’s tourist industry.
Canada’s immigration service answered that its visa policy is not based on reciprocity and that Romania and Bulgaria do not meet its criteria for free travel.
Among other considerations, the US mission to Brussels highlighted that the Commission proposal to introduce such visas can always be overruled by the European Parliament or the Council of the European Union on the grounds of foreign policy.
The discussion will take place on Tuesday, a week ahead President Obama’s visit in Europe, which will include trade talks.
TTIP negotiations are at a crucial point since both Brussels and Washington are convinced that their trade agreement stands a better chance of passing before Obama leaves the White House in January.
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