If You're Planning To Visit Europe Next Year, You Might Want To Get A Visa ASAP
While U.S. citizens have previously needed only a U.S. passport to gain entry to Europe, a new policy may make traveling to certain countries difficult.
The European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans visiting any European Union country. They made the decision after the United States failed to agree to visa-free travel for European citizens from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania.
What does that mean for anyone planning on travelling to Europe? If the US does not give citizens of the five countries visa-free access by the end of April, the European Commission is required to act and suspend the visa waiver for US nationals for 12 months. Though the Council of the European Union could still object to the non-binding resolution.
Three years ago, the European Commission discovered that the United States was not meeting its obligations under an agreement to allow visa-free travel between Europe and the United States by excluding the five countries.
Australia, Brunei, Japan, and Canada were also found to have been violating their agreements, but they have all since lifted any visa restrictions on travel for EU citizens.
Brussels informed Washington of the violation on April 12, 2014, and gave the United States two years to fix the issue. In December, the European Parliament threatened to suspend visa-free travel for American citizens in a final effort to get Washington to act.
The European Parliament said in a press release:
“The EU Commission is legally obliged to take measures temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, given that Washington still does not grant visa-free access to nationals of five EU countries.”
Prior to the vote, the European Travel Commission warned of the negative impact that imposing visas could have both in terms of economy and politics.
“We are very concerned about the economic and political impact of a suspension of visa waiver for US nationals."
"Making it more difficult for US citizens to travel to Europe would certainly deprive the European travel and tourism sector of essential revenue, and put thousands of European jobs at stake in one of the few sectors which experienced a strong growth in employment.”
The European Commission stated that they have already contacted Donald Trump's administration and called on him to help resolve the issue. They are "using all opportunities to explore the way ahead and all options or necessary actions to be taken to achieve this objective."
While the Department of Homeland Security "reiterated that temporarily suspending the visa waiver for U.S. citizens would be highly counterproductive to the achievement of a reciprocal visa waiver."