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back to index backGLOBALtalk June,  2016


EU Decision on Suspending US Visa Waiver Set for July 12

Discussions are underway in the European Union whether to implement a one-year suspension of its visa waiver agreement with the United States and Canada.  The action would require all travelers from these nations, as well as Brunei, to obtain a visa for travel to Europe.

A policy paper adopted by the European Commission urges the European Parliament and the European Council to assess the suspension of its 90-day visa waiver policy and to issue a decision by July 12.

The move comes as the result of rules adopted by the European Parliament and European Council in 2013, requiring reciprocity in visa requirements for nationals of all EU member states.  If a country that has been granted a visa waiver in the European Union does not extend a reciprocal waiver to all EU countries within two years of notification, the Commission is required to propose a one-year suspension of the visa waiver with that country.

Currently, citizens of European Union states can visit the US without a visa – except for citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania.  Canada requires visas for visitors from Bulgaria and Romania and Croatian nationals require a visa to travel to Brunei.  The two-year deadline is up, resulting in the recommendation to take action against the three countries.

Americans and Canadians are allowed to visit the 26 European countries of the Schengen area for either business or pleasure for stays of three months within each six-month time period. The United Kingdom and Ireland are not bound by EU’s visa waiver program, so travel to those countries should not be directly affected. If the recommendations are adopted, restrictions would also apply to the European Free Trade Association countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

EU rules require the Commission to consider the political, economic and administrative consequences dropping the visa waiver.  The assessment released by the Commission warns that EU member states would likely not be able to process the increased number of visa applications in the 90-day time frame required by the rules, and that the move would probably result in significant negative economic consequences and have a substantial impact on the EU’s international relations.

The European Tourism Association estimates that a visa requirement for Americans and Canadians would cut leisure trips to Europe (which make up 80 percent of all tourist trips) by at least a third.  

"It is important that the European economy does not become a victim," the ETOA said in a statement. "The business of accommodating US and Canadian visitors is an enormously important industry for Europe. We effectively sell them services worth approximately 50 billion Euros ($56.87 billion)."

In a statement from the Global Business Travel Association, COO Michael McCormick said, GBTA strongly discourages European policy makers from considering a suspension of its visa waiver agreement with the United States and Canada. A suspension would have a negative impact on business travel, which accounted for an estimated $1.2 trillion dollars in global spending last year.”

As the recommendations are being considered, no immediate changes to visa requirements are being made at the present time.  

Source: Business Travel Executive - GAI






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