EU demands the US eases visa rules

BANGKOK, 6 March 2017: A tit-for-tat policy maybe emerging between Europe and the Trump administration over a simmering dispute over visa-free travel.

In the latest round of sparring, the European Parliament says it will take a tough line with Washington demanding that the US extend visa-free travel to all 28 EU nations, rather than exclude five member nations.

Last Thursday, EU lawmakers voted in favour of ending the visa waiver for American travellers in a reaction to Trump’s tighter border control policies.

However, EU observers suggested the gesture was no more than sabre rattling. They argue that the EU would continue to remain open for visa-free travel by American tourists.

Passport holders from all, but five EU nations, can travel to the United States without seeking an advance visa. The entire European Union rolls out the welcome mat to American travellers and this is not likely to change.

The European Parliament is up in arms over the US demand that citizens of five EU nations –Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus – are not on the visa-free list.

The European Parliament does not have the authority to change visa policies, which remains a national policy decision of each member country. Also, imposing visas for American travellers would prompt economic disruption.

The US is apparently concerned about potentially lax passport-issuing rules in some of the five EU countries outside the visa-free list.