Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Will US Tourists Need Visas to Visit Europe? EU Officials Postpone a Decision

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Will US Tourists Need Visas to Visit Europe? EU Officials Postpone a Decision

Article excerpt

The European Union has suggested requiring visas for tourists from the United States and Canada. Although this decision could have s significant impact on American travelers and the European travel industry, the European Commission announced Tuesday that any decision on the matter will be delayed for almost three months, until July 12.

Currently, Americans and Canadians can visit the 26 European countries of the Schengen area for either business or pleasure without a visa for stays of three months within each six-month time period.

The same applies for citizens of European Union states visiting the US - except for citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania. Canada requires visas for visitors from Bulgaria and Romania.

For these EU states, it's all about reciprocity.

"E.U. citizens rightly expect to travel without a visa to any third country whose citizens can enter the Schengen area visa- free," Dimitris Avramopoulos, the E.U. commissioner for migration, home affairs, and citizenship, said in a statement after Tuesday's meeting. Suspending the visa waiver for American and Canadian citizens would be "a balanced and fair outcome," Mr. Avramopoulos added.

Despite the extension, it is unlikely the EU will make "any move to slap visas on Americans and Canadians," the Associated Press reports. Of the 28 EU states, this reciprocity issue only applies to five countries. And not only are they few in number, but they are also relatively weak in power: Romania and Bulgaria, for example, are the poorest countries in the EU.

Finally, the EU is unlikely to require visas for American tourists because the five countries pushing the hardest for this requirement currently benefit very little from the tourism industry. France, Spain, and Italy - three EU countries whose citizens are already able to visit the US visa-free - were in the top five for international tourists in 2014, boasting between 83. …

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