EU to weigh visa measures against US, Canada, Brunei

AP News
Posted: Apr 12, 2016 1:07 PM

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union nations and lawmakers are to weigh whether to take retaliatory action over the failure of the U.S., Canada and Brunei to waive visa requirements for citizens of all 28 EU member states.

The European Commission invited them Tuesday "to urgently launch discussions and to take a position on the most appropriate way forward" within three months.

The talks could lead to visa requirements being imposed on people from the U.S., Canada and Brunei when traveling for short stays in the EU, be it for tourism, business or family visits.

Many countries have arrangements with the EU allowing their citizens to stay without a visa for up to 90 days in Europe's passport free travel zone, known as the Schengen area.

But in return, the EU expects those countries to waive visa requirements for EU nationals.

EU officials say the U.S. requires visas for travelers from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania. Canada demands them for Bulgarians and Romanians. Brunei has been doing so for Croatian nationals but the Commission expects this demand to be dropped within a few weeks.

The Commission is also concerned that new travel restrictions adopted by the U.S. Congress in December could have an impact on all member states, for example the case of a French-Iranian dual national who would now be required to apply for a visa.

The three countries had been given two years to lift the requirements and that deadline expired on Tuesday.

Top EU interior affairs official Dimitris Avramopoulos pledged to "continue pursuing a balanced and fair outcome."

But the bloc is reluctant to enter into any expensive and inconvenient tit-for-tat travel battle with major trading partners.