Suspend visa-free EU travel for US citizens, lawmakers say

A traveller has his passport scanned as he passes through US Customs and Immigration after using the Cross Border Xpress pedestrian bridge between San Diego and the Tijuana airport on the facility's opening day in Otay Mesa, California December 9, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

United States citizens should be denied visa-free access to the European Union before summer because Washington does not allow some EU nationals to enter there without visa, EU lawmakers said in a vote on Thursday.

The European Parliament vote is set to put pressure on the European Commission, the EU's executive, to enforce a one-year suspension as a tit-for-tat measure for Washington's denial of visa-free access to citizens of Poland, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria, all members of the 28-country bloc.

A Commission official said contacts are ongoing with the US administration "to push for full visa reciprocity," but fell short of saying that immediate action will be taken.

The Parliament, by a show of hands, urged the Commission to adopt restrictive measures against US citizens "within two months".

"The Commission will report on further progress before the end of June 2017," the EU executive official said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

EU rules say that a decision to end visa-free access should be taken within two years from a first notice to countries that do not grant free access to EU citizens.

The first notification of the US lack of reciprocity was sent in April 2014. Parliament argues that as a result the Commission has been "legally obliged" to take measures.

Canada also imposes visa requirements on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, but it has announced that they will be lifted in December.

Chaos at US airports after Trump orders halt on Muslim immigrants

  • President Donald Trump's order for "extreme vetting" of visitors and legal US residents from seven Muslim-majority countries sparked outrage and protests.
  • The new Republican president on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States.
  • He temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other countries.
  • Deportees cross the tarmac after arriving on an immigration flight from the US at the Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Luis Talpa.
  • Immigration lawyers, activists and Democratic politicians reacted furiously, and many worked to help marooned travelers find a way back home.
  • Hundreds of protesters gathered at airports in Dallas, Chicago, New York and elsewhere while inside, anxious family members waited and worried for travelers.
  • The ban affects travelers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
  • Green card holders will not be allowed back in until they are re-screened.
  • Immigration workers process bags with belongings at an immigration facility after a flight carrying illegal immigrants from the U.S. arrived at the Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Luis Talpa, El Salvado.
  • A deportee gets a snack as she is received at an immigration facility at the Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador.
  • Protestors rally against Muslim immigration ban At San Francisco International Airport.
  • Protestors rally during a demonstration against the new immigration ban issued by President Donald Trump at John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 28, 2017 in New York City.
  • Protestors rally at a demonstration against the new ban on immigration issued by President Donald Trump at Logan International Airport on January 28, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • A demonstrator chants in celebration during a rally at San Francisco International Airport on January 28, 2017 in San Francisco, California.


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