13:27 GMT +320 May 2019
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    EU Lawmakers Vote to Ban US Citizens From Visa-Free Travels Before Summer

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    On Thursday European Union lawmakers voted to deny US citizens visa-free travel, as Washington continues to do the same to nationals from certain EU member states.

    In response to the US denying visa-free travel to citizens of Croatia, Cyprus, Poland. Bulgaria and Romania, the European Parliament is leaning on its executive body, the European Commission, to enact a year-long suspension of visa-free travel for US citizens. 

    The parliament claimed that it was "legally obliged" to address the issue as they were first notified in April 2014 that the US would not reciprocate the visa waiver right, along with Brunei, Japan, Canada and Australia.

    The European Parliament released a statement saying that "if a country does not lift its visa requirements within 24 months of being notified of non-reciprocity, the EU Commission must adopt a delegated act… suspending the visa waiver for its nationals for 12 months."

    One commission official said that parties on both sides are in talks "to push for full visa reciprocity," but that no immediate action will be taken on the issue. The parliament wants the measure in place "within two months," and the commission is set to report on its progress by the end of June. 

    Japan, Australia, and Brunei have lifted their restrictions, and by the end of the year Canada is set to do the same.

    Such restrictions could have a negative impact on European tourism revenue, and the commission is pushing to diplomatically resolve what some have deemed to be a "visa war."

    "The effect of terrorism in Europe in recent years emphasised how fragile our appeal is as a destination in long-haul markets," said Tourism Task Force chair and parliament member István Ujhelyi, according to the Telegraph, "This is not a time to put unnecessary obstacles in the way of one of the sectors most capable of generating employment."

    Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission said in a joint letter with the Network for the European Private Sector in Tourism sent to Parliament members, "We fully understand and respect the visa waiver reciprocity mechanism embedded in European legislation to ensure that all nationals of Member States part of Schengen can benefit on equal terms from exemption of visa requirement."

    The letter continued, "However, 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 experiences a strong growth in employment."

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    visa restrictions, visa-free travel, European Commission, European Parliament, European Union, Europe, United States
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