STRASBOURG – Members of the European Parliament have called for the European Commission to impose visas on US citizens visiting Europe amid an ongoing dispute over visa restrictions against five EU nations.
MEPs called on Washington to grant the same visa-free access to nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Romania and Cyprus as enjoyed by citizens of the other 23 EU nations. EU rules require equal treatment for all member states.
US citizens can currently visit all EU nations without a visa under the visa waiver programme.
The resolution, approved by MEPs Thursday by a show of hands, urges the Commission to adopt the necessary legal measures “within two months” but is non-binding, according to a European Parliament news release.
If applied, it would temporarily impose visa requirements on US travelers until full visa reciprocity is achieved. But EU nations would stand to lose out if tourism and business travel from the United States were impacted.
The European Commission has been working toward a resolution of the visa dispute.
A European Commission report published in December said the body was “using all opportunities to explore the way ahead and all options or necessary actions to be taken to achieve this objective”.
The report cited the US Department of Homeland Security as saying that the five EU nations concerned were not meeting requirements set out under US law on visa refusals, and so were not eligible to join the visa waiver program.
“The Department of Homeland Security also reiterated that temporarily suspending the visa waiver for US citizens would be highly counterproductive to the achievement of a reciprocal visa waiver,” the report said.
The European Commission said it would relaunch its efforts “without delay” once US President Donald Trump’s administration was fully in place and noted that the US Congress would also have a central role to play in resolving the situation.
Canada also imposes visa requirements on Romanians and Bulgarians but they will be lifted from December this year.