The E.U. Just Gave the U.S. An Ultimatum That Could Ruin Your Summer

March 3rd 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Last year people from the United States made more than 12 million trips to Europe. By this summer, however, those trips could become a lot more difficult if the European Commission follows through on its ultimatum to the U.S. government.

Despite a reciprocal agreement with the European Union, the U.S. requires travel visas for citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania who want to visit the U.S. By contrast, no EU countries require visas for U.S. citizens. 

Now members of the European Parliament want an equal relationship with the U.S. by this May — or else. 

Lawmakers in the European Union voted Thursday to give the U.S. a two-month deadline to change its policy on travel visas. If it doesn't, it will require U.S. travelers to have visas before visiting Europe for an entire year. The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, is legally bound to implement the decision if the U.S. misses the deadline, but the EU or the Council of the European Union can still object and possibly stop it. 

Essentially, if you have a trip to any of the 28 countries in the EU this summer, you may have to apply for a visa before you can actually go. Reuters reports that the U.S. and the EU have a planned meeting on June 15 to discuss the dispute. That's after the deadline, leading some experts to question whether the European Commission will actually follow through with the May cut off. 

In April 2014, the EU notified the European Commission that Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan, and the U.S. were not fulfilling their reciprocal visa-free travel agreement. In a March 2 press release, the EU said that all those countries, except for the U.S., have changed their policies or have an upcoming date for a policy change that will fulfill the agreement.

By Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump's administration had not yet responded to the EU's ultimatum. ATTN: asked the U.S. State Department for comment but did not immediately hear back.


The EU brought its concerns to U.S. officials again last year, but President Barack Obama's administration declined to extend U.S. visa waivers to all EU countries because of security concerns. 

“Fundamentally, they just haven’t met the requirements for the visa waiver program,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in April 2016. “What we’re trying to convey to them is we are more than wiling to work proactively with these countries to help them address some of the issues that are preventing them from obtaining visa-free travel to the United States.”

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