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The visa waiver issue has been resolved, but the European Commission still expects the U.S. to reciprocate.

May 03, 2017

The European Commission has decided not to reinstate visa requirements for Americans traveling to Europe, NPR reported.

The issue was first raised last month after the European Parliament voted to end the visa waiver program with the U.S., citing America’s lack of reciprocity, and urged the European Commission to begin requiring Americans to pay for visas when visiting Europe. Currently, citizens of E.U. member states Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland, and Romania must obtain visas to travel to the United States.

Since 1986, visitors from other European states have been able travel to the U.S. without a visa for short stays of less than 90 days, but must be approved by the U.S.’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization, a database run by the Department of Homeland Security that determines entry eligibility.

After the vote, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the E.U.’s commissioner for migration, home affairs, and citizenship, tweeted: “EU will always choose engagement, commitment and patient diplomacy over unilateral retaliation #visareciprocity.”

The European Commission said in a statement, “the temporary suspension of visa waivers for nationals of Canada and the United States would be counterproductive at this moment and would not serve the objective of achieving visa-free travel for all EU citizens.” Canada has agreed to full visa reciprocity by Dec. 1, 2017.

Reinstating visa requirements for Americans traveling to Europe would have been a costly gamble, as the European Union grapples with the impending Brexit, a weakening Euro, and increased terrorist attacks that have caused many Americans to re-think travel plans. Research recently conducted by American Express Global Business Travel found that 54 percent of travelers are concerned with international travel, and 56 percent cite personal safety as their main concern.

The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert this week for all of Europe, citing potential risk of terrorist attacks. The warning is set to expire on September 1, 2017.

Last month, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Director John Kelly said that the U.S. needs to reexamine the visa waiver agreement, citing potential terrorist risks.

In a statement, the European Commission said, “During the last months, contacts with U.S. interlocutors at the political and technical level were intensified, leading to the launch of a result-oriented process to bring the five E.U. member states into the visa waiver program.”

U.S. officials have said that they will consider changing the policy for the five European nations once they meet certain requirements. The issue is on the agenda for the EU-US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting scheduled for June 15 and 16 in Valletta, Malta.

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